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[caption id="attachment_48882" align="aligncenter" width="2000"] A collection of owl souvenirs from around the world.[/caption]   Thai superstition says that the owl is a cursed, evil, symbol: if one lands on your roof, horrible things will happen. In most other countries, though, owl symbolism leans a little more positive. In most other countries, the owl is much brighter figure, representing intelligence, perspective, wisdom, protection, mystery, power, fortune. It seems that only in Thailand does the fowl bring misfortune. So, maybe, it's kind of ironic that my owl collection began in Thailand. I never meant to start a collection of owl souvenirs. I didn't. I simply walked into...

It was my first time in Europe. My first time out of the country. I'd tagged along on my friends' three-week backpacking trip - eight cities in six countries- a pace that now has my quivering. Paris was our last stop. And, like many American girls who had never traveled before, Paris was my dream. The Eiffel Tower was my dream. Seeing the Eiffel Tower, the symbol of romance and beauty and all things European, up close and in person, was my dream....

I was never really considering seriously shopping in Hoi An, Vietnam and buying the custom tailor made clothes the town is known for. I am, after all, technically a "budget backpacker," which means that I'm supposed to be frugal and not over spend on unessential things like clothes. Right? But, seriously, I've been wearing the same clothes for five months now. And I got so sick of some of them that I dumped half of my backpack into the donate bin in Sihanoukville. Plus it was Christmas. Really, I owed it to myself to go get some custom tailored clothes in Hoi...