Gate 1 Tours did an excellent job of organizing the Discovery Tour to China and Tibet in June 2016. I gladly recommend Gate 1 Tours as one of the best out of the half a dozen tour companies and cruise lines I have dealt with in visiting more than 35 countries in the world.
There are however a few points I like to lay down that would enhance the value of the itinerary and the tour.
1. Guides. The different local tour guides lacked training in different specialties of guiding. Though they all were very courteous, some lacked knowledge of the locality, some were not adequately conversant in English, some did not use the Whispers Communicator prompting participants to elbow their way to her proximity to hear the commentary. The Tour Manager did an excellent job, when called upon, surpassing all the deficiencies of the local guides. However, his statement that he had been trained “not to say that he did not know the answer to any question”, left an uneasy feeling whether all his answers were accurate.
2. Meals. All the breakfasts and most of the lunches and dinners were generously provided by Gate 1. According to the Tour Manager the Gate 1 Beijing Management had laid out a monotonous menu for all the meals supplied not only by the restaurants, but also by the two homes the Tour Group visited. Typically, the Lazy Susan would sequentially carry dishes of; Soup, Peanut Chicken, Beef with Potato, unshelled Shrimp, twice cooked Pork, Bok Choi, Egg Plant, Beans, Broccoli, Rice and of course different kinds of noodles. By the time the dishes reached the last clockwise diner, there was hardly any protein left. Larger quantities of proteins, lesser number or dishes and a variety of different dishes at the different venues would have been much more satisfying. The Tour Group was told that Chengdu was the Capital of the Sichuan Province and eagerly waited for highly spiced dishes. The meals the Tour Group received had been watered down to satisfy the so called Western Palate.
a. It was rather disappointing that there wasn’t at least an option to pay $7.50 and take the Maglev Train to enjoy the lifetime experience of travelling at 270 mph by the fastest train on the planet.
b. What gainful experience did the Tour Group receive from the diversion along the Goddess Tributary?
c. The Tour Group received $10 worth of cultural entertainment in Lhasa for the $65 each paid. Immediately dispatch a Cultural Theater Director to Lhasa for six months or instruct the local guide to interpret the movements through Whispers.
d. Cameras failed to focus on the second tallest building in the world from half a mile away, due to thick fog. No attempt was made to lay out the policy of the Peoples Republic of China on this dilemma. Perhaps in a few more years the PRC would achieve economic supremacy in the world and would then strictly enforce environmental regulations. The American Republic took 194 years 4 months and 28 days to achieve economic supremacy in the world and then promulgated the EPA. It took many more years for USA to arm the EPA with the necessary regulations of CAA, CWA, CERCLA, RCRA & TSCA and attempt to purify the environment.
e. What did the Tour Group gain by attending a lecture in a hotel near the Jin Ang Hotel in Shanghai? The narrator summarized his life story and concluded the lecture by stating that Mao Zedong did ‘70% bad’ and ‘30%’ good during the cultural revolution. Was this an accepted policy of the People’s Republic of China?
f. The English Professor from the University of Tibet failed to distinguish the difference between the Tibetan Buddhism and the South East Asian Buddhism, the concepts of which have taken root the West.
g. The Tour Group members planted Pine Tree seedlings that would grow up to say 50 feet, at five foot intervals. This exercise was carried out amidst low growing trees similar to weeping willow. How was this deemed environmentally and economically desirable?
h. Visits to two homes of common citizens in two big cities was superfluous. A single visit to a city home and one to a rural farm home would have been much more desirable.
4. Emergencies. The flight from Xansia, the five gate airport to the Shanghai International airport was cancelled just before the boarding time, late in the evening. The Tour Manager immediately contacted the Gate 1 Office in Beijing 850 miles away. A tour bus was rented out from the nearby 750,000 population city of Yichang and the Tour Group was transported comfortably to Wuhan the Provincial Capital of Hubei Province. Gate 1 also supplied a complementary dinner of Chicken Burghers. The Tour Group was relived to enjoy a typical American Meal after days of monotonous Chinese Meals. The accommodation in Wuhan was in a plush modern hotel with suites larger than 500 ft2. Wuhan had several daily flights to Shanghai and the Tour Group took one early next morning. Would any other travel agency have had that familiarity with the 750,000 population city of Yichang and the expertise and connectivity to reserve rooms in Wuhan and flights from Wuhan to Shanghai within a few minutes?
With best wished to Gate 1 Tours and Jason Liu the Tour Director.
Suranjith [Suran] Peiris
10403 Church Road
Dallas, TX 75238
Home: 214 245 4857
Mobile: 972 974 7793
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