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Silk Road in a “Luxury” train

Author: Murat Kunt
Date of Trip: September 2016

The trip runs from Moscow to Beijing in two trains (Golden Eagle – GE – till the China border and Shangrila Express – SE – till Beijing, both operated both by Golden Eagle Luxury Trains Limited.

We liked:

L1) The countries, the cities and the places we have visited. We have now a better idea of their culture, history and civilizations. The excursions were well selected and well organized, although in some places time spent in the souvenir shops could be reduced.

L2) The hotels we stayed in: Kempinski, The Silk Road Hotel, Sofitel and Regent

L3) The professionalism, availability and serviability of the tour leaders on both trainsL4) The arrangement of the GE train with the bar and restaurant in the middle, the decoration and settings

L5) The quality of the service on GE train, at the bar, in the cars and in the restaurant as well as the pianist. The permanent availability of Alexandra and André in our car (No. 3), serving permanently with a smile is highly appreciated

L6) The pain the Chief-cook of the GE train took to decorate the dishes served, that compensated the lack of good taste of the food

L7) Although separate, the shower car in the Shangri la – express (SE) was the only clean place to be.

We disliked:

D1) Pre-tour information was not available enough in advance, including visas requirements. Although we started in June, we barely made it in time. Information received was undated and unsigned. It has been forwarded with some delay by QCNS without any added value,

D2) The poor timing of the entire trip. Our week in China collided with the national Holliday week. Everywhere we went was full of local Chinese tourists, whereas a week later or before would be a far better choice. Very often we were squeezed in lines and waste precious time.

D3) The poor quality of the train cars (in both trains) and of the railways in the running mode. The GE train was shaking laterally almost permanently, in addition to saccadic braking’s and accelerations. The SE train was a bit better in lateral shaking. As a consequence we were unable to sleep properly during none of night we were in the trains. It was like trying to sleep in a giant drink shaker or a laundry washing machine.

D4) The beds on both trains were very narrow. The Gold class lower bed in the GE train is just enough for one person (for a claimed luxury trip). In the SE train, it was even worse, some of us were obliged to sleep on the floor thanks to an extra mattress Tatiana was able to provide.

D5) The location of the safe in the GE train. It required laying on the floor to use it.

D6) The extremely poor quality of the food and service on the SE train. It was below the acceptable level. Wine was served on a drop-by-drop basis. We were refused to have a coffee after lunch. Luckily Tatiana made it herself to serve us. The bar didn’t have more than half of the drinks listed in their price list. We were unable to have a bloody marry or a Bailey’s

D7) The wall-to wall carpeting in the SE train cars was dirty and has never been cleaned although a person sits permanently and watch around.

D8) Although we were told for the SE train that there are two restaurant cars, one for us and one for the personnel, our restaurant car was shared all the time with some “personnel”

D9) On the basis of our experience of other luxury cruises and trips we made, we claim that he SE train has nothing to do with the qualification “luxury”. It is rather an oxymoron.

D10) The return/price ratio for the entire trip is extremely low. It is definitely not a luxury trip by our standards. We are very seriously disappointed and we will not recommend this trip.

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