Wednesday, April 9, 2008

A Tribute

You maybe remember that prior to arriving in Beijing, I expressed some scepticisms regarding the integrity of CITS, China’s state-run tourist service. Well, I’m glad to confess my mistake: my experience of the company was nothing short of terrific. Thanks in large part to our guide, Cao Haisheng, a.k.a Peter, the tour was as seamless as a hockey puck. Unflappable even in the madness of Beijing train station, he truly was the shining light that led us from city to city.

Whilst money does change hands, it usually does so above board in the form of tips. “Connections” in that regard don’t operate on a financial basis but instead it’s more of “you do this for me, I do this for you.” And boy did “they” do stuff for us. From the top-rate hotels to the delectable food, I have very few complaints, and those few are the result of “us” doing stuff for “them” – the silk mill restaurant in Suzhou springs to mind.

The quality of the local guides was also great. Combining professionalism, humour and good yarns added to the value of the tour. Quick-thinking also proved a valuable asset. Literally whatever the weather, Peter and co. made sure we were warm, safe and dry, making sure nothing detracted from our experience of a fantastic country.

For that, here’s to you, Peter and co.

No comments: