20151008-Jos Van Tibet Travel Experiences

Detailed feedback to Sherry and Sonam

Herewith my more detailed feedback.

Tour design:
–      It was very easy to discuss by mail with you to design the trip.
–     The 2 days in Lhasa were about right, I still regret not to have seen Norbulinga the 2nd day.
Sera’s debate does not take that long.
–     In the Tsetang/Samye tour we opted for the King’s tombs and Yumbo Lhakang and dropped the rest. It was a good choice, the guide could focus on the 7th-10th century history. Additionally we had more time for the fascinating scenery between Tsetang and Samye.
Samye was great.
–    Nam-Tso and Reting.
Spending the night in Nam Tso was the right decision: to see the pilgrims, the sunset and to be present again the next morning. I comment on the accommodation below.
The road to Reting was interesting, and the monastery which is in reconstruction was also worth seeing, be it only to realize how big the job is.
–     Coming back to Lhasa after each excursion was a good idea, because of the hotel and because we could go back to the old town when we wanted.

Tibet Travel Permit:
We were obviously over concerned because 3 yrs ago the country got closed when we wanted to come. Everything went fine in the end.

Tibet Tour Guide:
We enjoyed the company of Namgyal.
He is authentic and candid, streetwise and quite knowledgeable on history and culture.
He conveyed to us how he lives as a real Tibetan, and this we shall remember more than anything else. We also got some idea how life is in Lhasa for the local people (we tend to ask many many questionsJ).

Driver and car:
Very good.

Accommodation in Tibet:
–    St Regis: it could be an outstanding hotel. However:
o  We spent the 4th night in a room in the main building and this room addition was perfect as the one we had stayed before in RI, check https://nekitchenandflooring.com for more details. The other 4 nights we were in  a room in an adjacent building, 2 elevators away and the room was is in urgent need of renovation: stained carpet, tap not well fixed on the washbasin, etc, etc Small things but not acceptable when you pay a lot.
o       When all the management is in the house the English language capability is great. Unfortunately there is regularly a hiatus and things are more difficult, even to book a taxi.
o    The restaurant is not cheap but functioned very well.
o    I shall obviously post my rather mixed experience with the St Regis on tripadvisor.
–      Samye was basic but ok
–      Nam Tso.
We did not know there was no water in the rooms, nor a toilet. Had we known that on beforehand, we would have brought/or bought stuff to make life easier. Having a towel and a bucket helps a lot.

–    Reting.
Same comment but there the manager on duty was very helpful
For these two locations the guide should also have been more directive and make us buy some extra food en route, he mentioned it but in hindsight we did not take it seriously enough.

Special help.
I had lost my smartphone in the taxi from the hotel to the airport in Beijing.
Sherry and Namgyal did an outstanding job to spot it, to get it sent to Chengdu and to hand it over when we were transiting there.
Experienced travels to whom I told the story at home were AMAZED that I got my phone back.
Worth mentioning.

We booked the planes thru Explore Tibet. I transferred the money Jan 18th 2015. The tickets were only issued 6-7 months later at my insistence.
This episode left a funny feeling. What was the logic for us??

In addition we will advise those folks not to be shy to book a trip directly in Tibet and not thru an expensive in between agency that just happens to be next door.

Tkx for all the help!! And keep going.

Jos Van Biesebroeck and Annemie Depauw.