An old Yiddish proverb says "better an ounce of luck than a pound of gold", and we couldn't agree more. Throughout history, hard to find items like four-leaf clovers, rabbit's feet and other odd tokens are believed to possess some sort of power, bringing luck to the person possessing it. And in tough economic times we can all use a little luck, no? But instead of carving up plants and amputating rodents, why not check out these places that supposedly also will bring wealth and happiness to those that make the trip.
Crazy Girls Statue (Showgirls Bronze), Las Vegas, Nevada
Next time you are in Sin City and need a little gambler's luck, make a beeline for the Crazy Girls Statue located in front of the Riviera Hotel. With the slogan 'No "IF's" "AND's" or...,' the sexy showgirls bronze statue is considered one of the most unusual, and likely most fondled statue on the Vegas strip. Legend has it that a little patting on the shiny derrieres of the dancers will make you skip all the way home with a fat wallet.
Erawan Shrine, Bangkok, Thailand
Thai people believe the holy four-faced, four-armed Brahma, or Tao Maha Phrom, who is said to have settled inside the sacred Erawan Shrine, will bless all those who come to pay respect and will grant all their wishes. Located in downtown Bangkok, the shrine is visited by thousands of locals and foreigners hoping for success, prosperity and good health. If the wish is granted, revisiting the site with teak elephants or performing a live classical Thai dance in front of the shrine is necessary to show gratitude to Brahma.
Fushimi Inari Taisha, Kyoto
Businessmen all over Japan visit this revered Shinto shrine seeking blessings for their companies from the god of rice, or Inari (who is also responsible prosperity and successful business). The shrine was founded in 711 AD and is considered the oldest in Kyoto. Getting there requires a two-hour walk up-hill, passing some 10,000 torii, or shrine gates, to the main shrine. The best time to go is early in the evening, when the whole mountain is alive with the sounds of wildlife while the setting sun casts a warm glow over everything.
The Temple of the Divine Madman (Chimi Lhakhang), Punakha, Bhutan
This eccentric temple is a must for couples having a tough time conceiving, those seeking blessings and protection for their children, or maybe just for giggles. The 500 year-old Chimi Lhakhang is one of the most visited temples in Bhutan, due to its peculiar decor and the vast number of paintings of male genitalia. The temple was built in dedication to Saint Drukpa Kuenley, also known as the Divine Madman, for his outrageous drunken womanizing and his somewhat unconventional fighting techniques. Those lucky couples who visit the Lhakhang get a tap on their heads with a wooden phallus which will supposedly induce fertility.
Wall Street Bull (Bowling Green Bull), New York
Money, money, money...for those who want to be rich (i.e. everyone), should not miss a chance to visit the Charging Bull Statue, located just north of Bowling Green Park near New York's Wall Street. Installed post-stock market crash in 1987, the 3,200kg bronze statue quickly became the city's unofficial symbol of aggressive financial optimism and prosperity. It is believed that if you rub the bull in the right spots (horns, nose, and the crown jewels) you will be endowed with wealth and prosperity in the years to come. Though lately, we're pretty sure people are lining up to kick those crown jewels instead.
Charles Bridge, Prague, Czech Republic
Before this lucky bridge was re-built in 1357, (it was completely destroyed by a horrendous flood in 1342) a group of King Charles IV's trusted astrologers were assembled to find the most auspicious way to re-build the bridge. After many calculations, the lucky date and time was set (9th of July at exactly 5:31 a.m.) to lay the first brick, and three lucky ingredients were identified (eggs, milk, and flour) to be mixed into the mortar used for building the new bridge. Who knew that adding basic dough to mortar would work so well?...because Charles Bridge still stands to this day. The brass plaque at the end of the bridge gets rubbed by thousands of tourists daily in hopes of bringing the luck of Charles Bridge home with them.
Blarney Stone, Cork, Ireland
People who find themselves at a loss for words may want to consider flying to Cork and try giving the famous Blarney Stone of Blarney Castle, a little upside-down smooch. Believed to possess a magical power that improves speech, pilgrims from all over the world have been making trips to this rock, which sits next to a parapet over 90 feet high, since the 18th century. Back then, the kissing method could be deadly, requiring a person to attempt a smooch dangling dangerously over the edge of the parapet, while friends grabbed their ankles. Today, the process is much safer, but can still trigger a rush of adrenalin to those who attempt it.