We went to some of the big name places, but we also went to some places off the beaten path that we would never have thought of on our own (Lijiang, Kunming). Russ really helped us put together an amazing tour. More experienced China hands have been impressed (and some of them a bit jealous) at the places that we went. We did a combination of an individual tour and time on our own, which worked extremely well. Everything the travel company organized was executed flawlessly, (with the exception of one tour guide who got upset that we weren't going to spend more money with him- but he only was in one airport transfer, so it wasn't a big deal).
It was all great! The things that you would expect to be amazing- the Great Wall, the Terracotta Warriors, etc. were amazing. The adventuring- caves, whitewater rafting and so on was really fun. The food was phenomenally good almost everywhere (and never bad). The scenery and the cultural things (museums, temples, etc) were spectacular. The Impressions of Liu Sanjie show, in Yangshuo, is extraordinary- a real highlight. The guides were a key ingredient- they really made the trip possible, and added so much to our experience.
Amazingly, nothing really, except not fly United. We chose to fly United Business class because we wanted to minimize our recovery time, and it was the only non-stop flight. Never again- or at least not until they have retired all of the old planes. The United experience bad enough that when one of us went back to China several weeks later (on business) they chose to take a connecting flight (instead of a direct flight) to be able to go on (vastly superior) Delta.
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