Getting a Bamboo Tattoo in Thailand

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Do you like my new tattoo? I put a ton a thought into what I should get for my first tattoo and couldn’t be happier. A dolphin, rainbow, and a pink unicorn, united by the power of love. The perfect image to symbolize my inner beliefs on the meaning of life and how special this trip means to me, and of course my true love for Scott. Now I get to show this off to the world! I think the artist did an amazing job and maybe it will even get featured in some tattoo magazines. Hmm… maybe I should go back and get a cute kitten in a basket added to it… Wouldn’t that just be peachy?

 

 

Okay okay… Happy April Fools everyone! Now lets get back to our regular schedule program:

 

Koh Tao, Thailand

Multiple times during our travels through Thailand I was told that my name Dee meant “good” in Thai. Soon as I found this out I started debating about getting the Thai symbol for good as a tattoo to the point that during our time on Koh Tao all signs were pointing me to YES. Because of the accident I couldn’t go into the ocean and I had just gone through one of the most painful experiences of my life. (Trust me, I’ve been through a lot) How bad could a simple little tattoo be? The timing seemed perfect.

Bamboo Tattoos are a very traditional method in Thailand. Most men will receive one in their life from a monk. The monk will decided what and where the tattoo will be placed depending on the receiver and what they need in life. Once completed the tattoo is believed to be blessed with magical powers of protection for the rest of their lives. Bamboo is shaved down into very fine needles and then attached in a line to longer sturdy piece of bamboo. This is then gently tapped by the artist into the skin. The skin in puncture, but not torn like a machine tattoo. This results in less bleeding and a much faster healing process with next to no scabbing. Since there is no blood pushing out the ink in the skin, the ink settles quite deeply and barely any color is lost. I figured this would be the best method to get while in Thailand. It’s a Thai symbol tattoo, received in Thailand. Might as well get in the traditional Thai way while I’m at it, though unfortunately not by a monk!

Koh Tao, Thailand

The process was extremely easy. We walked down the main tourist drag on Koh Tao and checked out the various tattoo shops. (There are a ton of them!) I wanted to go somewhere that gave me a good vibe. Some we walked right by, others went in and inquired, didn’t feel a good vibe, so we walked out. Near the end of the street we came to a small shop with some custom made leather items on the outside. The name I can’t remember but it was something very unique like “Bamboo Tattoo”. Inside was a chill group of guys and happy tourists. Charlie the owner immediately came up us, shook our hand, invited us in and asked our names. I instantly felt like this was the place, especially with the chill reggae playing in the background. I told Charlie what I wanted and he handed me a font book to choose a style. The artist drew up the design in minutes and before I knew it I was in the chair but was feeling very relaxed.

The pain was nothing at all. Others waiting for their turn were quite shocked at how relaxed I was and I couldn’t believe how much they whined during theirs. Some spots hurt a bit like a hard pinch, he was gentle but I could tell that needle was going in deep by how much my skin went in. I just smiled, closed my eyes and listening to the Thai favourite, Jack Johnson in the background. It’s played so much that we ended up downloading his albums for our own enjoyment.

Koh Tao, Thailand

I couldn’t be happier for the final result of my tattoo. I love it’s location as it’s very visible to me but yet at the same time can go by totally unnoticed by others. It reminds me everyday to have a good day and just enjoy myself. I’m sure when I’m back home it will also remind me of my times in Thailand. Now that I’ve popped my tattoo cherry, I’m quite ready to get more. Only thing that holds me back now is money.

If your planning to get a bamboo tattoo in Thailand, be sure to walk around and go somewhere you feel comfortable. Look at the photos, be happy with their work, joke around with them, and ask to see the needle and ensure its never been used before it comes anywhere near your skin. When they place the template on your skin, check it throughly and move you skin around to make sure you like the exact placement Also, don’t barter on the price too much. If you don’t like the price they tell you then go somewhere else. You don’t want the artist to feel cheap and thus do a cheap job on you. We witnessed two girls arguing for 15 minutes over $2. Remember this is something that will be with you for the rest of your life.

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