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FOL­LOW THE READER

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Destination Afloat - KAR­REN HICKEY

MOUNT NASURA, WA NOthank you ( la shukran in Ara­bic), whether con­veyed with abrupt an­noy­ance or ex­as­per­ated res­ig­na­tion, is like water off a duck’s back when it comes to the hustlers of Egypt.

Hus­sein, our guide in Cairo, tells us the hustlers are in the ‘‘mon­key busi­ness’’ of sell­ing cheap im­ported sou­venirs, like the ‘‘pa­pyrus’’ made from ba­nana leaf.

‘‘Think of me as your body­guard,’’ says Hus­sein, as he leads us on a dash around Khan el-Khalili bazaar where many out­stretched hands dis­play all man­ner of wares and we hear as­sorted amus­ing sales pitches such as: ‘‘I don’t know what you want, but I’m sure I have it.’’

Fur­ther down the Nile, our guide, Sighid, briefs us like a coach about to send us into a rugby scrum. ‘‘Do not make eye con­tact, pause to look, or show in­ter­est, or the hustlers will mob you.’’

At the tem­ples we visit, we try all kinds of de­ter­rents to be left alone, but noth­ing works — one hustler stretches a table­cloth across a nar­row al­ley, block­ing our es­cape.

At Esna Loch, we are a cor­nered au­di­ence on our cruise boat. We are al­most hit by rolled-up car­pets be­ing flung from the wharf.

Peer­ing over the rail­ing, we see that four decks be­low, two lads have tied their skiff to our boat and are throw­ing up gar­ments, hop­ing to at­tract cus­tomers.

Up and down the bun­dles fly, and then the the real bar­ter­ing be­gins in earnest.

In Luxor, crafts­men make ex­pen­sive sou­venirs from onyx. I buy a stun­ning vase af­ter hag­gling a good price. Back home, I de­cide to stop and smell the roses, only to find my vase sit­ting in a pud­dle. It leaks. Send your 400-word con­tri­bu­tion to our Fol­low the Reader col­umn: travel@theaus­tralian. com.au. Pub­lished colum­nists will re­ceive a $100 voucher for Colorado shoes. Colorado (now stocked by Wil­liams stores) spe­cialises in men’s and women’s life­style footwear. More: colorado.com.au; williamsshoes.com.au.

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