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Tuesday, 11 October 2016

There is no spoon

Take the red pill and the Wall Street Journal will show you how deep the rabbit hole goes: Pei Li and Eva Dou have written a remarkable piece on the endlessly fascinating phenomenon of Chinese tourists in Egypt tipping Egyptians with mentholated balm (the same stuff sold here as Voltaren or Tiger Balm abroad) in metal tins. Neither the Chinese tourists nor the Egyptians have any idea how the practice started or why it endures, but it provides fodder for some fantastic quotes.

“Before I came to Egypt, the tourism agency told me repeatedly to bring cooling balm as a gift to make the trip easier,” according to one Chinese tourist. Meanwhile: “Chinese tourists like to give this to me, but I really do not know why,” according to a cleaner at a Hurghada resort. “I really would like to know why Egyptians like cooling balm” according to one Chinese traveler writing on the social media site Weibo. And so on and so forth. (Read Chinese tourists in Egypt have a unique way of greasing palms)

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