Gem of a shop­keeper

FOL­LOW THE READER

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - SIEW- GIM MCGRE­GOR

TURNER, ACT MYfriend and I had spent sev­eral days ex­plor­ing Li­jiang’s Old Town in Yun­nan, China. This her­itage-listed quar­ter is a net­work of cob­bled al­leys lined with wooden houses and shops and the criss­crossed al­ley­ways tested our nav­i­ga­tion skills.

My friend wanted to buy a small jade sou­venir and we fi­nally found a store that had four small disc-shaped pieces that she liked. Af­ter some hag­gling (with my ‘‘sur­vival Man­darin’’), a price was agreed. My friend bought two pieces and I bought one. Then we asked the shop­keeper if he could thread the discs to make two sim­ple strap neck­laces.

Later, my friend de­cided her necklace should be shorter, so back we went and the oblig­ing shop­keeper fixed it.

On the evening of our tour’s of­fi­cial din­ner, my friend couldn’t lo­cate her new jewellery and thought she must have left it at the shop. She rushed back and it wasn’t there. The trust­ing shop­keeper said he didn’t want her to be sad, so he threaded her an­other piece and said she could re­turn it if she found hers.

Well, she did find hers. Ho­tel house­keep­ing had moved it, and in her pan­icked search she hadn’t seen it. Next morn­ing, back we went, with an of­fer­ing of boxed choco­lates for her saviour, to re­turn the ex­tra necklace.

The shop­keeper didn’t re­ally know us, but he ob­vi­ously put the hap­pi­ness of his cus­tomers above all. Look­ing back, I can’t quite be­lieve his gen­eros­ity. Most retailers are kind to pass­ing tourists but, trans­ac­tions done, they have lit­tle rea­son to care what hap­pens next. Send your 400-word con­tri­bu­tion to our Fol­low the Reader col­umn: travel@ theaus­tralian. com.au. Pub­lished columnists re­ceive a 200ml So­dashi Mint Soother Foot Treat­ment lo­tion ($63.60) to cool aching feet and legs; the lo­tion is per­fect for a deeply mois­tur­is­ing overnight treat­ment. More: so­dashi.com.

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