Helen’s Travel Corner

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Unique Travel Souvenirs: Go Local

December 13th, 2009 · 6 Comments

I remember being in a hostel in Chang Mai, Thailand and an American guy was excitedly sharing what souvenirs he had bought. He was taken a little off guard when he showed me a journal for his sister and I commented that it looked like it could be bought from Pier 1 Imports. Fast forward, a friend of mine recently told me how much she loved my Chinese opera mask bottle opener and how a store she used to work at sold them. She laughed when I said that I actually got mine in China. With our globally connected world, it’s becoming harder and harder to find souvenirs that are indeed unique or can’t be bought in the United States, even then, most things can be bought online and shipped to the states. I’m a big collector of post cards and less of t-shirts with locations plastered on them. However, when I really want a unique souvenir, I look to the local art, whether from the street or galleries (when the currency is in my favor ;). My favorite purchases that are now displayed in my apartment were bought off the street in Dublin, in a market in London and from a gallery in Thailand. While two are photographs of a different country from the one I bought them in, each piece shows the perspective of the artist who took the pictures. Whether painting, photography or another medium, perspective can’t be disconnected from the artist’s personality, culture and ideas nor can it be manufactured. To me, this makes local art unique, especially when you get to meet the artist.  That said, finding local art is one of my favorite things to do while traveling.

Wool Strings

This was bought off the street in Dublin from a photographer who was born in Belgium but resides in the Irish capital, Dominique Beyens. This photo was taken in Benares, India.

Bamboo, Kamakura, Japan

Bamboo, Kamakura, Japan - I bought this photograph from a market stall in Camden Town, London from a French photographer, Fabrice Jouet, who took the photo in Kamakura Japan.

John of John Gallery, Chang Mai, Thailand

John of John Gallery found at 330 Thadpae Chiangmai 50300 Thailand. John was painting in the back and shared that he lived in New York City once after talking with him.

This was bought from the John Gallery found at 330 Thadpae Chiangmai 50300 Thailand. John was painting in the back and shared that he lived in New York City once. This painting reads "The lovers of god have no religion but god alone".

This was bought from John Gallery. It reads "The lovers of god have no religion but god alone".

A quick Google search led me to this video and I had to share…

What are some of your favorite souvenirs? Have you found any unique items while traveling? Share here!

Tags: travel

6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Mikey H // Dec 15, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    I love picking up locally crafted trinkets along a journey. While John and I were going through things in the shop we came across some rad paintings he got when we paddled to Kuujjuarapik on the Hudson Bay.

    And Sarah and I just hung a handpainted ornament we picked up along our trip to Alaska.
    Isn’t sentimentality awesome?

  • 2 ATravelaroundtheWorld // Dec 21, 2009 at 6:52 am

    I like your video! Nice post

  • 3 Helen Todd // Jan 3, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    Thanks for checking it out! John is definitely a cool dude from Chang Mai!

  • 4 Helen Todd // Jan 3, 2010 at 7:35 pm

    Couldn’t agree with you more Mike!! I love all of your trinkets in your apartment – they add so much character!!

  • 5 Fabrice // May 10, 2010 at 9:36 am

    Hello Helen,
    I was just reviewing what is on the net about me and come across your blog.
    Thank you for mentionning my work and I hope you’re still happy with it!
    I am still in London but moved to Piccadilly Market and Greenwich market.
    I have added up new images since then and will do more soon of english Blue Bells.
    Take care and again thanks for mentionning my work.
    Fabrice Jouet

  • 6 Helen Todd // May 10, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    Hi Fabrice! It’s such a treat to hear from you! You’re very welcome for the mention and I’m happy to report that my picture is still being enjoyed very much so and proudly hung in my living room! If I’m ever back in London, I’ll be sure to find you and until then I’ll definitely look for your new work on your website! -Helen :)

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