We booked our 16- day tour of China with the meticulous and excellent help of Leila of China Odyssey tours (COT), all via internet. We only had the trip advisor reviews as recommendation! After several emails working on our itinerary, I sensed thru Leila's prompt response and knowledgeable information that COT was a professionally operated agency. We were so relieved when we stepped out of the arrival area in our first stop, Shanghai, and found our names held up by our guide, Avril. From then on we knew we were not alone in China but had a whole team caring for us. Although our friends think we were crazy to visit 6 cities in 16 days, we never felt exhausted because COT took care of all the details: hotels, flights, transport, entrance fees, etc. Avril was able to transmit to us not only history and facts but the essence of Shanghai and its neighboring towns. For example, we now understand the philosophy and significance of the elements of Chinese gardens after we visited Yu Garden. We enjoyed exploring the water town of Zhujiajiao, and eating the local delicacies like steamed white fish, Shanghai red cooked pork, rice steamed in bamboo leaves, stuffed lotus roots and the delcious, Xiao Long Bao dumpling. Though not usually into shopping, we asked Avril to take us to try the exquisite teas of the region and to find out more about silk making, both very important to China's history and culture. The tea house where we sampled so many kinds of tea and the silk store where we even got to try to stretch out silk cocoons were great. Too bad the foggy weather didn't allow for good views from the bund or Shanghai World financial tower (aka the bottle opener building because it looks like one). The thrilling acrobat show more than made up for them. Thanks again, Avril and Leila.
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