Beware of touring to China

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cybermom
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Beware of touring to China

Post by cybermom » Wed, 03 Mar 2010 12:12 pm

I just want to share my horrible experience touring to Shanghai, Wuxi, Suzhou and Hangzhous last month.

I sent emails to the respective companies were not replied.

I tried to submit this letter to one of the neswpaper here but after a week was not published. I made a call and then I received official letter form the editor in charge of that forum:


Dear.......
Thank you for writing in. We appreciate the time and thought you've invested in being part of ...
We regret that we are unable to publish your letter, in this instance. We look forward to your future contributions.

Best wishes,

Here is what I wrote to the newspaper:

I joined a group tour to visit some cities in China during Chinese New Year with Focal travel agency. (My family and I initially wanted to go there on our own, but could not get the air-tickets) The tour left me with a very bad taste and I would like to highlight some areas that I think need to be handled better.

1. Just before we departed, at the airport, we were informed of changes in the itinerary. Couldn’t the company inform us earlier? My tour members came from other tour agencies, i.e Newly Tour and they were also disappointed that they were only informed the changes in the itinerary at the last minute.

2. Upon arrival when we were in the bus, our tour leader, Lily from the Sunshine Travel Agency that was contracted to lead us by our Singapore Travel Agencies, informed us that we need to pay an extra SGD 80/person (there were 28 of us) for visits to several places and it was compulsory. When she found out that most people did not want to sign up, she told us that she would give us one night to consider it. The following day, she informed us that:
· the tour was optional;
· we could ask for our SGD 80 back from our Singapore travel agency if we were not happy with it.

She kept saying that she was just carrying out an order by her company and she pleaded with the group to pity her and make her job easier.
Her tactics to win sympathy managed to convince the undecided to go with the flow, except for my family who adamantly rejected such unethical business tactics.

The additional fee turned out to be for visiting 2 night markets, a show in Hangzhou and a visit to the tallest building in Shanghai. Is that really worth SGD80??? You be the judge.

And what happened to my family when the rest of the group were shopping at the night market? We were told that we had to wait for the rest and not allowed to leave the bus. We could not even go back to the hotel on our own as Lily refused to call the hotel to open two rooms for my family and I. We ended up waiting in the freezing bus for two hours looking out into the streets. (We later on found out that the bus actually had a heater). It is the most ridiculous experience ever to be held hostage by a local tour guide in a foreign land.

Our encounter with the tour guide from hell did not stop there. There was a man who suddenly collapsed when he was visiting a night market in Suzhou. The wife had to carry the husband without anyone’s help and even though Lily agreed to accompany them to the hospital she gave the wife a long face and let the wife handle everything on her own.(Sunshine hired three different local tour leaders to assist Lily in Suzhou, Wuxi and Hangzhou. So while Lily went with the couple, the local tour leader from Suzhou led the group). Only after the wife promised to give her a big ang pao that she no longer gave them a long face and promptly helped them.

On another occasion, my mother was resting in the bus when she saw one of our tour members rampaging through the ill man’s belonging and commenting that he should not be eating/drinking the things found in his bags. Instead of stopping the busybody, Lily joined in the gossiping about this man and agreed with this busybody when this busybody said that he deserved to fall ill. They had thought that my mother is an Indonesian and could not understand their conversation in Mandarin.

Even though this husband was very ill and told Lily that he didn’t want to follow the group to go to the factories/shops (every day we visited different factory where I know the tour leaders earn their commissions. Only when we visited parks then she would let the tour member who wished to rest in the bus to do so), Lily always gave him a stern look and told him he had to follow the group.

One night when we were in Hangzhou, because my kids and my mother said that they were feeling very tired and wanted to rest early, I told Lily that we wanted to rest early and would take a cab on our own. She would be taking the rest of the tour members to watch a show that was part of the SGD 80. The wife whose husband was sick wanted to follow us too.
Lily said that it was impossible to do so. When we insisted, she told us that we could either wait in the bus for two hours or we could take our own cab to the hotel and wait for her at the hotel lobby (she told us she would be back at the hotel at 10.30 pm) Imagine that! Fortunately the wife of that ill man told Lily that we were willing to pay extra. Only then did she agree to let us return to the hotel first with the bus driver and to arrange for us to enter our hotel rooms.

3. Other than this tour guide from hell, our hotel in Hangzhou was way below standard. The hotel was over crowded and the dining room where breakfast was served was more like a refugee camp. The breakfast experience must be one of the worst I have ever had in a hotel in my whole life. As if fighting over table, chair and the meagre food was not enough, we had to bear with coffee and milk so thin and watery I would rather call them mud water.

4. My horrible experience with this tour has made me wonder whether our local travel agencies perform their due diligence to ensure that their foreign business partners do not take the tourists for a ride. It has also given me so much phobia that the next time I travel to China, I vow never to have a tour that is associated with the same travel agency in China lest I am reunited with the tour guide from hell.

Lily also told the group that Five Star Tour invited her to come to Singapore and she will be assisting Five Star Tour. I do not want more people to go thru this horrible experience, so I am writing this letter to warn people who are planning to join tours to China and the local travel agencies to perform their due diligence before engaging a foreign business partner.

I feel truly sorry for the ill man who had to be hospitalized in Bangkok for four days when we transited there on the way back home.

One of us who made complaint call to Focal was told that she was the only one complain

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sundaymorningstaple
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Post by sundaymorningstaple » Wed, 03 Mar 2010 1:17 pm

3. Other than this tour guide from hell, our hotel in Hangzhou was way below standard. The hotel was over crowded and the dining room where breakfast was served was more like a refugee camp. The breakfast experience must be one of the worst I have ever had in a hotel in my whole life. As if fighting over table, chair and the meagre food was not enough, we had to bear with coffee and milk so thin and watery I would rather call them mud water.
Frankly, if you wanted Singapore, why did you go on tour to China in the first place? Did you expect it was going to be like your local kopi tiam? If someone were to ask me, I would say the above is incorrect. It sounds like you were the tourists from hell. I don't blame the newspapers for not publishing it. You are just helping to perpetuate the Singapore tourist stereotype. I feel sorry for the tour guide.
SOME PEOPLE TRY TO TURN BACK THEIR ODOMETERS. NOT ME. I WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW WHY I LOOK THIS WAY. I'VE TRAVELED A LONG WAY, AND SOME OF THE ROADS WEREN'T PAVED. ~ Will Rogers

cybermom
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Re: Beware of touring to China

Post by cybermom » Thu, 04 Mar 2010 11:53 am

I just want to update you that I am satisfied with what the editor of that section in the newspaper explained to me why he can't publish my letter. I think that was the first time I wrote a complaint and didn't know how to do it properly.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

tomyin
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Post by tomyin » Sun, 07 Mar 2010 1:17 pm

your experience was not uncommon in the group touring business in China. That is way they make living (or fortune ). If you really want to make effective complaint ,you have to make it objective, emotional wording make it less dependable.

cybermom
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Beware of touring to China

Post by cybermom » Sun, 07 Mar 2010 5:46 pm

Thank you very much for taking the time to read my post and giving me your advice.

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