Mudra, jiaobei, geisha and terracotta: travel souvenirs on the road

Ladies buying bracelets at the Upper Lascar Row in Hong Kong

As I travel around Southeast Asia, I came across varied culture and peoples, arts and crafts which made me appreciate the globalized community of peoples and embracing them makes me cosmopolitan. As I walk so many opportunities on the road, I came across crafts which I bought to bring home and these made me value them as a living memento of my many adventures.

The best I have had were bought on the road and with meager amount; its value rises as it gains a prominent place in my humble abode. In our home, I have established my own Buddha corner where I have placed all the Buddha I collected and bought in countries like Vietnam and Cambodia.

These are random listings of the few I bought in my many travels and I hope to share these to inspire you to travel more and collect your little mementos to keep you aground with your desire to travel more and stay on the road.


When I went to Osaka in Japan, I came across my fascination of geisha and fell in love with the culture since I first grabbed my Shogun book. After reading so much about Japan and its awesome culture, I bet I have ingrained in myself the affection towards geisha. When I went to check out at some geisha  some of my Japanese friends told me that it is very expensive to see them perform in restaurants or meetings. Glad I came across this golden plated plate on which a geisha is seen sitting on the famed flower of Japan, the cherry blossoms. This perhaps, is the costly souvenir I bought in my travels. Insanely expensive it was that I do not want to cite it here.

Geisha under the cherry blossoms from Japan


In Kuala Lumpur, I bought a great mystical ringer which is believed to be used by monks. I bought it out of sheer excitement when I hear it produced a distinct high pitched sound when the wood handle touches the rim of the metal. I placed it on my Buddha corner and is being sounded on mornings I need a breather after I lighted the incense. This is one I bought at Chinatown in Kuala Lumpur.

souvenir from Malaysia


I have been fascinated by Buddhas of varying positions and meaning. In life, as the monks told me, Buddha has taken so many forms and situations and each represents those which we want in our lives and our homes. While on the road backpacking in Cambodia, I bought different Buddhas which adorn my Buddha corner. I am also inspired when I visited the Angkor Museum in Siem Reap.

I bought this meditation Buddha in the Russian Market in Phnom Penh and is made of green marble. It is indeed heavy and nicely carved. I negotiated a good deal for this souvenir which is my favorite among so many I have. This is what one need in their homes when they contemplate meditating as a respite from the stresses of life. This Buddha has a Dhyana ‘mudra’ which is what I need in my life.

Dhyana Mudra of the Buddha from Phnom Penh in Cambodia

I now know that the “mudra” of the Buddha varies on which one seeks. The ‘mudra’ or the hand gesture of the Buddha is different on the manner they sit or are posed.

I also bought, while in Siem Reap, an antique wooden Buddha who stands on a lotus flower. It has a varada ‘mudra’ which means charity or compassion. I have it placed at the center of my Buddha corner which resembles the intent of my home.

The varada mudra of the Buddha from Siem Reap in Cambodia


When visiting Vietnam, I came across Buddha which are intriguing and I have no second-thoughts in buying them even if they are heavy and oddly colored. This black colored reclining Buddha I bought in Ho Chi Minh City is just awesome to let it pass my hand. I bought it on the bargain night at the Ben Than Market. Impressive bargains too.

the resting Buddha from Ho Chi Minh, in Vietnam

Important in the analysis of reclining Buddha are the position of the hands. There are only two types of reclining Buddha which one can buy and you must understand what and why you buy it for. For this one which I bought in Vietnam, the Buddha right hand supports his head which means he is resting and when one gets to see the Buddha reclined, its right hand resting on his side, this means the Buddha has passed away already.

Also, I bought a Buddha bust while at the airport. This one is rather ostentatious compared to those I bought in Cambodia and in Ben Than Market. It is made of shiny polished materials.

the Buddha bust from Saigon, Vietnam


Hong Kong

Jiaobei or the moon blocks is part of the Chinese rituals and celebrations which I learned while visiting a temple in Hong Kong. I bought it for future predictions and I love how it reveals for me how my wishes can be in the coming years.  Jiaobei is composed of two moon-shaped wood which is tossed together and depending on how it reveals itself, it gives you answers to your dreams and wishes.

The jiaobei from Hong Kong

The Jiaobei is usually used with the Kau cim or the sticks however it can also be used alone. After it is being purified in a temple, the jiaobei can now be used. Interpreting it reveals four (4) answers. These, however have to reveal before tossing the jiaobei. The querent kneels and say their name, birthday, residence and their question to the gods.

Here are the four (4) answers to your jiaobei:

  • Shèngjiǎo or the Divine Answer – The jiaobei revealed in one block flat and one block round which means “yes”.
  • Nùjiǎo or angry answer – both blocks are round which means “no”
  • Xiàojiǎo or the Laughing answer – when both blocks are flat and in the manner the jiaobei rolls before it land which symbolizes laughter of the gods.
  • Lìjiǎo or the standing answerone or two blocks falls and stands erect which means that gods do not understand your question and needs to be repeated.



While walking around in the Badaling section of the Great Wall of China in Beijing, I came across these amazing terracotta warriors made into miniature warriors and one which came into their own fancy boxes. I bought these and plays an important pedestal in my house. These terracotta warriors are symbols of vitality of China and its immense tourism magnet aside from the Great Wall.

Terracotta warriors from Beijing, China

As I travel, I buy for my home these little mementos to constantly remind me of how much I was influenced by other people and cultures. As you are on the road, what are those which reminds you of your humanity too? What have you kept and to constantly reminds you of where you had been and where you will be next?

Categories: Backpacker's Corner, Backpacker's Tip | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

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18 thoughts on “Mudra, jiaobei, geisha and terracotta: travel souvenirs on the road

  1. I really could say na your blogs are really worth reading. Hope to read more of your works… Good luck and more power.
    The Jiaobei interests me most.

  2. dati sabi ko mag ipon ako ng mga shirt .. pero laging walang kasya ! asar lang ..ang nangyari puro resibo lng naiiuwi ko

    • hahahaha buti may mga resibo. u can have that one made on a scrap book. Ako rin, I still keep tabs of my receipts lalo na pag-foreign trips haha.

      ngayon naman siguro, kasya na Love?

  3. Inggit kami sa Buddha souvenirs mo Doc! Kami naman shirts, Headwear at Ref Magnets 🙂

  4. Interesting collection doc, saw all of it at your home and made me realize i should also collect mementos of my travels. Hope the becky’s “mudrakels” word was not lifted from the buddhist term “mudra” hehe

  5. Lovely souvenirs, Doc Wends. Dati ganyan din ako, bili ng bili ng something to take home. Kaso I decided to simplify my life haha Ang mahal kasi ng iba, and cluttered na bahay ko. Do you have a special place where you display these?

  6. ang gaganda ng souvenirs mo doc! very unique, sakin kasi mga magnets lang haha. my fave are those terra cotta warriors, ganda!

  7. Wow. that’s a lot of buddhas! and i do wonder how insanely pricey that geisha souvenir is 😉

    • Tita Lili, super and it was too late for me to know the price and the cashier already entered it into the tender. tsk tsk tsk. Its gold trimmed kasi kaya aun, napailing ako ng grabe haha.

  8. Wow! you have nice collections! Ako ang walang tiyaga at PERA! LOL! I am true to the saying: “leave nothing but footprints, do not take anything but pictures!”

    • ganun din naman ako Ding though at times, if makakita ako ng mga abobot na pwede ko bilhin at idisplay sa house, il buy. I was even tempted to buy a 1890 Samurai sword while in Brunei kaso they cant ship it so out of the talk ang handcarry kasi they will not allow it. 😦

  9. AJ

    Have you noticed that Buddha is chubby in China but lean in Southeast Asia? 🙂

    Anyway, it’s good that you have meaningful souvenirs from places you’ve visited. I don’t have the habit of buying souvenirs for myself. I usually end up not having any memento of my trip other than photos and memories.

    • hahaha i never noticed it and had me check it back and forth haha. Anyways, I have this habit built on as I gain more into my travels with less. I do not buy too much though but some stuffs I can place in the house to remind me of those inspiring trips I did.

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