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Chinese tourists in Egypt pay back helpful locals with tins of mentholated balm that spread confusion, goodwill and expectations for the greasy gift

F
or their trips to Egypt, Chinese tourists have developed a habit of bringing many small tins of mentholated ointment, which is used to ease headaches and soothe sore joints. Some Egyptian tour guides, vendors and officers now ask for them as tips. The practice may have originated in diplomatic exchanges of gifts in the 1980s, which then caught on, as the hot Egyptian climate pairs well with the cooling ointment.
12 months ago
Lucas Niewenhuis
By Lucas Niewenhuis
Lucas Niewenhuis is an associate editor at SupChina who helps curate daily news and produce the company's newsletter, app, and website content. Previously, Lucas researched China-Africa relations at the Social Science Research Council and interned at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. He has studied Chinese language and culture in Shanghai and Beijing, and is a graduate of the University of Michigan.
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