Can you trust people on the internet?

As my TickerFactory widget, which I found in Mrs Bluebird's Classroom, is counting down days until the last day of school, allow me a small digression from edublogging. My travel bug is nudging me to write a post on travelling, which I haven't done for almost a year.

Before our recent trip to Beijing, I stumbled upon an in-depth trip report by a Canadian family of four on Tripadvisor. I took an instant liking to this family because:
- before the trip the mother planned a detailed itinerary by reading trip reports
and recommendations written by other travelers
- during the trip the family would patiently, although a bit boredly wait for the
mother to indulge her desire to shop
- the mother made her 15 year old son write this excellent trip report.

(I can easily relate to two of these.)

Anyway, the report said that they hired a car with a driver for a day trip to The Great Wall of China. They hired Victor, whose email address they found on the internet and they strongly recommended his services. So we contacted him and arranged everything via email two weeks before the trip.

He was supposed to pick us up at our hotel at 8am on Easter Sunday. On Saturday evening, however, the worm of doubt started gnawing at us. What if this Canadian family never existed. What if Victor kidnapped us. What if we were never heard from again.

Luckily, it turned out that we had watched too many of those CSI shows. Victor was very polite, really helpful and spoke very good English.

After a pleasant 1-hour ride in his comfortable car, we arrived at the Mutianyu entrance to the Great Wall, where we took the cable car to Tower 14 and then walked to Tower 20, which is the highest point of this section of the Wall. After that it was an easy stroll (well, most of the time) towards the 6th tower where we went for a toboggan ride. That was a lot of fun and we enjoyed it immensely.

After that, Victor took us to the Birds' Nest, but on the way there we stopped at a bank where he translated for us, becuase no one there spoke English. After visiting the beautiful Summer Palace, we wanted to try Beijing roast duck, so he suggested Quanjude, a famous restaurant. Victor went with us inside, made sure that we got a good table and explained the menu, but kindly declined our invitation to join us for the meal.

So despite our worries and fears it turned out to be a memorable day and of course, I heartily recommend hiring Victor!


Alex Case said…
Glad it worked out for you, and will keep that in mind if I ever make it there. What would your general recommendation be about how you chose him, after the worries etc?
Arjana said…
Hi Alex and thanks for your comment:-)

I found Victor's name in other trip reports by people from different parts of the world and although they all mentioned only his name they convinced me that he was a good choice, which he was, really.

I find travel books very useful and I never go on trips without one, (usually a DK Eyewitness guide), but sites like Trip Advisor, Virtual Traveler or Fodor Travel Forum are a must before each trip, because there are 'real' people who write about their recent trips and who can provide you with valuable advice on whatever you need, be it the sights, hotels, cheap eats, safety or drivers. When combined with travel books (which, as a matter of fact, are also written by 'real' people) you can't go wrong or can you?
All the best