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