After I graduated from college I worked in construction for several months trying to figure out what I was going to do with the rest of my life (for the next six months or so). I was fortunate because we had a good family friend who was working as a psychologist with ex-pats employed by an oil company with operations in Southeast Asia. She was located out of Bangkok and invited me to stay with her for as long as I wished. I took her up on her incredibly kind offer and went to Thailand for several weeks as part of a longer around the world trip.
In Bangkok, our friend lived comfortably and was able to hire a driver (at her company's insistence) to take her to and from work. The driver's name was Samboon. Samboon, means perfect in Thai, and he was exactly that to me. After dropping his boss (and friend) off at work he would take me around the city. We would go to his favorite restaurants, Muy Thai matches, and I even spent a night at his house singing karaoke.
One hot day Samboon and I ended up in an air conditioned shopping mall. It was here that I first stumbled upon Thai amulets. I really didn't have much money. I had not made millions in the construction business before I left home and Samboon knew this. So, when I found an amulet I liked Samboon sent me out of the store and proceeded to haggle a decent price with pissed off store owners who felt they could get more from me than what Samboon was offering.
The amulet was a simple stone cut with a Buddhist monk on one side and a Buddha on the other. It came blessed by the monk pictured on the stone and was apparently coveted, as I found out later, because the monk had recently passed away and this was one the last amulets to come from his lucky wat. Samboon told me this was important, but more importantly he said it would bring me good luck in a unique way. This amulet would bring me self confidence that allowed me to look inward during times of chaos.
I brought it home and treasure it to this day. On a fairly regular basis I pull it out as a reminder that I need to make my own luck through hard work and elbow grease and that when I apply myself in an intelligent manner I should have very little reason for self doubt. It's also a reminder of the incredible experience I had in Thailand and the friendship Samboon extended to me.
Has anyone else out there bought or been given a piece of art or an instrument when traveling abroad? Do you still look at this piece or play the instrument and have memories from this trip that evoke a certain emotion? If you do, share your story with us.