Try the local tailor

By Stephen Addison
This item appears on page 14 of the August 2020 issue.
Banks of the Yangtze River near the Qutang Gorge, as seen from the <i>Viking Emerald</i>. Photo by Stephen Addison

Almost halfway through an “Imperial Jewels of China” tour with Viking River Cruises (800/706-1483, that my wife, Paula Owens, and I were on in May 2011, I inadvertently brushed against a sharp object and ripped a 6-inch gash along the right-side seam of my expensive safari shirt. Since we travel only with carry-on luggage, we travel light, so I had planned on wearing that shirt at least two more days during the tour.

This event occurred during the tour’s cruise on the Yangtze from Wuhan to Chongqing, aboard the Viking Emerald. While I was berating myself, Paula remembered that there was a tailor shop on the ship. I didn’t have much hope in salvaging the shirt, but there was nothing to lose.

She discovered that a local family ran the tailor shop. Neither parent spoke English, but their son did. He took the shirt, examined it with his parents and then told Paula to come back in 24 hours. She returned the next afternoon, and not only was the shirt mended, with no evidence of the rip, it was also laundered and pressed. It looked better than it did when I had packed it!

When Paula asked for the bill, the son told her there was no charge. That was unacceptable, so she gave him a generous tip.

Viking River Cruises still operates this tour, albeit with an altered (for the better, in my opinion) itinerary. Of our 10 trips with Viking, this tour was definitely the best. The service provided by Viking’s staff was impressive, too.

According to Viking’s website, they are still using the same ship, and the ship still has a tailor shop. The tailors did such a fine job that I still wear the shirt.

Charlotte, NC