Northern Xinjiang Tour Story
We are a party of 6 frequent travelers from Singapore and Indonesia who had just finished 14 days experiencing the picturesque Xinjiang region in Western China. We had enjoyed ourselves tremendously with the contrasting sights and scenes of the region. The travel went very well and in this letter, we wish to express our big and heartfelt thanks to Ms Lesley Lim from Xinjiang Citic International Travel, and her team of tour guides and drivers who were with us. They made our trip as enjoyable as it was, with their responsiveness, care, trust, local knowledge and skills.
Their professionalism is best expressed through a brief description of our tour.
Although it was a full 14 days, we barely covered Xinjiang, which is about the size of seven (7) France. Even so, in the first 8 days of our car trip, our driver and tour guide had driven over 3,650 kilometres for us to visit historical and natural sites. Amongst the various visits, a horse-ride took us deeper into a mountain for a near-private view of beautiful mountain scenery while a 10-hour overnight train in comfortable “soft bunker” rooms delivered us in time to witness Kashgar’s Sunday animal bazaar. There, dusty scenes of families shopping amidst animal traders in many masculine, hardworking and haggling moments that were sealed with handshakes between men, showed a world that was so different from ours. A delay-free domestic flight returned us to Urumqi for sights of modern highways, grape valleys and 2,000-year old ruins before our voyage home.
Xinjiang treated us from snow to temperatures between 6 to 30 degrees Celsius; throwing in fogs, blue skies and fresh air, scenes of amazing rising and setting suns, a star-lighted night just outside our Yurt’s tent. Its sheer size also offered the contrasts of snow-tipped mountains, hot canyons, autumn parries, superlative lakes, shopping and bazaars that needed many photos to just capture the sights, leaving the majestic-ness in the minds. In the trip, we had whole lambs, celebrated a 60th birthday, a 21-year anniversary and the comradeship of family and new friends. Xinjiang offers frontier experiences and we were fortunate to have been without any issues in personal security, food, transportation, accommodation, tour guides or drivers. Our trip started and completed on positive notes.
When we first contacted Ms Lesley Lee, her reply to our first and subsequent numerous inquiries were always almost immediate, to the point and contained additional considerations on travelling that were very helpful. That gradually build trust despite the distance. To ensure our optimal travel experience, she quickly bought the highly demanded train “soft bunker” tickets - with attention to bed and room details that had ensured our conveniences too. We had asked for our guides to be Mandarin-speaking, and the final itinerary was tight but balanced with their local knowledge.
Lesley’s tour guides met us on time at every different segment of our travel, and left us with no worries of being stranded in new places. They briefed us on daily information, arranged things flexibly and their abilities to manage key tour variables meant that we were able to stick to our itinerary despite a sudden snow that had temporarily closed roads.
For that particular day and night, our tour guide, driver and Lesley rejigged hotel bookings, road routes and the driver drove about 850 kilometres to bring us back on schedule. Twisty mountain roads were skilfully navigated.
At each point of interest, Lesley’s guides skilfully spun histories, geographies and stories in local styles. The arranged hotels left no complaints, and we were introduced to many fine and minority dishes, watermelons, “hami” melons and other local fruits and nuts. Outside of the hotels and cities, flexible personal hygiene locations were well facilitated by the guides and drivers.
For the all-in scope that had included entrance fees, good hotel grade, local transportation excluding horses, meals and some incidentals, and the hassle-free experience that allowed us to concentrate on our tour, we consider the price to be value-for-money. The tips are separate.
All of us enjoyed the trip tremendously and should opportunities take us back to Xinjiang, we would definitely look forward to be interacting with Lesley and her team of pros again.
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