Interesting to read the reverse of what we've done, travel in rural China on our own using local transit. These folks had an advantage on us, they knew one more word of the foreign language than we did.
We had some key words and phrases written out in Chinese. The biggest shock was finding out that a lot of peasants could not read
Anyway, good for them, you learn so much more about the local culture by travelling on your own rather than by group tour.