My 16 years old son is a passionate table tennis player and we decided to spend 15 days in China so that he could practice in the country where they play the best table tennis in the world. That is how I got to know the official site of cntttc and asked for information. Later on I found the other two reviews (until now) about cntttc in Tripadvisor and was discouraged to go there. Nevertheless, I got into touch with zdtttb, which is exactly the same but with no middleman (thank you, Mark S.) and exchanged some e-mails with "Emma". In the end, we spent 13 days at the base and we are happy we went there. Here some facts, pros and contras.
PRICE- We paid 60 dollars a day pro person. This included lodging, three meals a day and training (also so much mineral water as you can drink). If you book through cntttc and not directly with firstname.lastname@example.org, it would cost 100 dollars a day (!!!). No need to pay any money in advance but you have to take the dollars cash (with "new" notes so that they can take the money to the bank). Anyway, Emma will answer every previous question you have, no matter how many e-mails you write. If you want transfer from Beijing to the Base in ZhengDing, it costs 1600 Yuans (about 260 dollars), one way (it takes more than three hours to get there) but you can also go by train (very cheap for western standards).
LODGING- This is China. Is it the equivalent to a 3 star hotel? Well, in our opinion, the rooms at the "new" hotel are quite OK. We have been there in the beginning of October, so it was not so hot. Anyway, you have air conditioning, a little fridge (a bit noisy but we disconnected it at nights), a washing machine (no need to take so many T-shirts, they provide you with the washing powder for free), TV, Internet (no problem with e-mails or Skype but no Facebook or Youtube in China unless you get the appropriate software, for example VPN). The room was much better than we expected after having read the other two reviews (and we are Swiss ;-)
MEALS - Again, this is China. It is true that the meals were a bit repetitive (always Chinese food), but it is a fact that every time you have five or six different things to eat and nobody tells you that you have to eat from everything every time. We foreigners (or special guests, as you prefer) ate on our own at the dining room (we were only four at the time) and we had the feeling the people cooking there tried their best to please us. If you are picky about meals (you need dairy products or you expect a steak or something like that) you will have a problem. But the meals contain everything that is necessary to be properly nourished. It is also true that we stayed only two weeks and we like Chinese food (but the first thing we ate on our coming back in Switzerland was a good Fondue).
TRAINING AND LANGUAGE - There are different levels, of course (the boys playing in the best two groups would be at the top of the ranking in Switzerland, no doubt). My son got into a group where he fitted quite OK. I am 52 years old and a beginner but I decided to take advantage of my staying there and I trained as well, partly with the small kids and partly with a coach dedicated to me (15 dollars for two training sessions a day). They train hard and we noticed how tired we were already after a couple of days. They also have a gym with lots of machines you can use any time you want. Something is clear, if you get there, you get there to practice table tennis, table tennis and table tennis. The coaches speak very little English but you get along with gestures, a couple of words and, if necessary, calling Emma to come and translate for you.
MOVING AROUND ZHENGDING - If you are interested in culture, ZhengDing offers you some interesting places but you have to get the information on the internet before you visit them because they do not have much information in English. We found our way around with a GPS, always taking care of the chaotic traffic. Taxis are cheap. Also you have to get used to be stared at when walking around since there are not many non-Chinese people in town. Pollution is a problem there.
IN SHORT, if you want to spend some time practicing table tennis, this can be your place. If you are going alone and planning to spend there more than a month, you will need to be physically and mentally strong. I do not know how things are in Summer about other guests and heat. Autumn is a good time to go (with somebody else). If you can, learn some Chinese before you get there: you'll be glad for any Chinese word you have learned.
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