Thai village woman closeup

Hiking to the Hill Villages of Northern Thailand

In the mountains of northern Thailand, not far from its border with Myanmar, lie countless tiny villages as far metaphorically from frenetic Bangkok as the earth is from the moon. Many of the people who live in them -- members of the so-called "hill Read More

A wall of gold bracelets in Dubai's Gold Souk

What to Buy in Dubai: Souvenir Shopping in one of the World’s Bizarre Bazaars

I am standing in a shopping mall. To my left, a realistically sculpted male mannequin is showing off a trendy pair of overly tight underwear, complete with bumps that leave nothing to the imagination. In front of me, a sign implores visitors to dress Read More

Maya Masks

What to Buy in Mexico: Souvenir Shopping in Riviera Maya and the Yucatan

"Sombreros, blankets, and tequilla," says Pablo, without even thinking, in response to my question about the most popular souvenirs in Mexico. But, he hastens to add, here in the heavily Mayan Yucatan Peninsula, tourists can buy some interesting Read More

Baltic Amber

What to Buy in Russia: Souvenir Shopping in St. Petersburg

Some 20 years after the fall of communism in the Soviet Union, I found  myself engaged in the most capitalistic of interactions: trying to figure out how many rubles equals how many dollars while negotiating the purchase of a pair of painted wooden Read More