Getting Tattooed in Thailand

If you follow me on instagram you may have noticed I have spent the last couple of weeks travelling around Thailand with Contiki. Whilst I was away I had a bamboo tattoo on Koh Phangan which resulted in loads of questions about the experience so I thought I would put it into writing for anyone else who is interested in having a bamboo tattoo.

Ever since I had my first bit of ink over 12 years ago, I have slowly been adding to my collection of tattoos over the years. Although a lot of thought has gone into some of my tattoo designs and placements, I am also quite partial to the odd spontaneous tattoo. You’re only young once, hey!

Most of my tattoos don’t have particular meanings, certain pieces remind me of  points in my life, experiences with friends or certain times and places. Tattoos mean different things to different people but for me, if I like the design then that’s a good enough reason to get it tattooed on my body.

Having a tattoo whilst travelling is a permanent reminder of that trip. I have tattoos from my year out in the USA which constantly bring back great memories. So when I booked my most recent trip to Thailand, getting a bamboo tattoo was one of the key things I wanted to experience whilst I was there having always been intrigued by the process. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted or where, just that I wanted one.

So, what is a bamboo tattoo and how does it differ to a regular tattoo?

Bamboo tattoos initially originated among tribes some 2,000 years. Tattoos believed to offer protection and other benefits for the bearer and closely became tied to the Hindu-Buddhist concept of Yantra. Yantra refers to mystical diagrams which are used as an aid during meditation. Buddhist monks would traditionally tattoo these designs to offer power, protection, fortune, charisma and other fortunes for the bearer. Although not carried out by monks today, the practise of bamboo or Yantra tattooing is still widely available throughout Thailand.

The process involves attaching a fine needle to the end of a thin piece of bamboo and tightly wrapping a length of cotton around the two to hold it in place. The needle is then dipped into the ink and gently tapped into the skin.

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Unlike machine tattoos, with bamboo tattooing, the skin is punctured and not torn. This means there is a lot less blood. As the tattoo doesn’t scab, the healing process is a lot faster – usually 3 to 4 days.  Also, as there is little bleeding the ink settles quite deeply and very little colour is lost. resulting in a bright, strong tattoo.

One of the first questions I get asked is ‘what does it mean?’

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The Hah Taew (5 sacred lines) is one of the most popular Sak Yant Thai tattoos with each line having a different sacred blessings for success and good luck. Although the Yants have taken on different meanings over the years, typically the five lines represent:

  1. The first row prevents unjust punishment and leans in your favour when the area is grey, cleans out unwanted spirits and protects the place you live in.
  2. The second row reverses and protects against bad horoscope constellations and bad fortune.
  3. The third row protects you from the use of black magic and anyone who tries to put a curse on you.
  4. The fourth row energizes your good luck, success and fortune in your future ambitions and life style.
  5. The fifth row is to gain charisma and attraction to the opposite sex. It also is a boost to the fourth row.

The next question I get asked is ‘did it hurt?’ or ‘how does it compare to a normal tattoo?’

Having a fair bit of ink work I can honestly say I found the experience to be quite enjoyable. The tattoo itself was just as painful as having a normal tattoo – but tattoos hurt, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! Bamboo tattoos take longer than machine tattoos and tend to be quite expensive because of this, but you are left with an intricate design which has been created by hand with a needle and some ink, and that’s quite impressive.

You also don’t have to worry about the aftercare as much either as explained above, which is perfect if you’re travelling around.

If you are thinking of getting some work done during your travels in Asia I wouldn’t blame you. As with all tattoos there are various things to consider beforehand to make sure you get exactly what you want. You don’t want to regret a poor decision so take the time to

  • Decide on a design
  • Decide on the placement of the tattoo
  • Shop around for price, don’t be scared to barter. I got mine 1000THB cheaper than originally quoted.
  • Pay attention to portfolios and previous designs.
  • Make sure everything is sanitary.

and…

Be prepared to want more. Tattoos are addictive.

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48hrs in Copenhagen | Things to Do

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Forgetting about all the great places to eat, Copenhagen has many attractions to offer. Considering we were only there for a short time, we managed to cram in quite a bit. Here are a few of my favourites.

Nyhavn

Nyhavn is one of the most iconic ares in Copenhagen. Once a bust port, today the canal is lined with colourful houses, many which have been renovated into vibrant restaurants and bars. The area is often busy, and is the perfect place to grab a beer and take in the views and history. No. 9, is the oldest house in the area dating back to 1681; the design of the house has not changed in that time retaining its traditional features. The famous writer Hans Christian Andersen also used to live in various houses along the canal where he wrote many of his fairy-tales, such as The Little Mermaid.

Talking of The Little Mermaid, the surrounding area is home to The Little Mermaid statue. Hated by the locals and often vandalised, the bronze and granite statue was a gift from Danish brewer Carl Jacobsen to the City. Based on the tale about a mermaid who longs to be reunited with her Prince on land, The Little Mermaid is perched on her rock in the water, staring towards the shore.

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Botanical Garden

The Botanical Garden is located in the centre of the City. Covering an area of 10 hectares, the gardens is home to more than 13,000 species and 27 glasshouses. The gardens are open daily to the public and is a nice place to get away from the city for an hour or two.

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Tivoli Gardens

Tivoli Gardens is said to be the inspiration behind Walt Disney’s Disneyland and it’s easy to see why. Located just outside the city centre in Vesterbrogade, the park is the second oldest amusement park in the world and to this date is still the fourth most visited in the world. Featuring many attractions such as it’s wooden rollercoaster, Rutschebanen, the Dæmonen coaster and The Star Flyer, as well as its buildings and stages (which host the Tivoli Festival every summer) the park caters for all ages.

As soon as you walk into the park, you are transported to a different place. Full of charm and character, it’s clear to see why this park is so popular. The park opens at around 11am, but be prepared for the long queues. Tip: We went around 7pm and walked straight in.

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We also visited The Round Tower and The Blue Planet aquarium during our time, just missing out on the Carlsberg Brewery. But thats a reason to go back, right?

What are your favourite things to do in Copenhagen?

Exploring New York!

Airbnb
406 Linden St
Brooklyn, NY 11249
United States

Checked in: 18/05/15

Ace Hotel
20 W 29th Street
New York City, NY 10001
United States

Checked in 21/05/15

I’m finally back and alive (just about) from the past week in New York. I booked this trip about a year ago so I was definitley ready for it! Despite turning up to the airport 25 minutes before our flight was about to take off, the travel Gods were in our favour and told us that it had just been delayed so they could reopen check-in for us (phew!). It’s not the first time I had been to New York but its always good to re-visit places, and New York is so big and ever-changing that there is always something new going on.

For this trip we booked an AirBnB for the first time. Our apartment was located in Williamsburg, which was made up of five separate rooms, including the one where our host(s) stayed. Our hosts were great and made us feel welcome and were on hand to answer any questions we had about the city. The location was ideal as I had never been to Brooklyn before so we got to see a different side of the city. We were also staying on Bedford Avenue which hosts many great places to eat and drink such as Lucky Dog, where we spent many a night. The commute in to Manhattan was around 15 minutes by subway or a pleasant walk across the Williamsburg Bridge which we did the first day.  At a fraction of the price it would cost to stay in a hotel in central NY, I would definitely book a AirBnB again and stay in this area.

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For the remainder of the trip we checked in to Ace Hotel in Manhattan which was in a great location (29th and Broadway) where we could walk to most places. In fact the Empire State Building and Times Square were both within a 10 minute walk away.  We opted for a medium-sized room, which was probably a good idea, as the rooms were still not very roomy and came complete with it’s own personal guitar, a vinyl player and a selection of vinyls. The hotel itself is aesthetically pleasing, with DJ’s playing in the Lobby, a Photo Booth and housing an Opening Ceremony store. However at around $400 per night, and as nice as it was, I probably wouldn’t stay here again in terms of value for money after staying in the AirBnB.

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Between changing locations we visited all the traditional tourist hotspots. New York is a great place to explore on foot as you discover so much more, in fact we rarely used the subway! Highlights of the trip included climbing to the crown of the Statue of Liberty, Shopping on Prince St. and watching the sunset from Brooklyn over the bridge.

I hope you enjoy these photos of our time in The Big Apple! Let me know what you think in the comments.


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All photos were taken on a Canon S120, using VSCO cam B2 filter to edit.