ouch! getting a tattoo in thailandLiving 

Getting a Tattoo yeah, getting ink done – Infos & Experiences by a Tattoo Newbie

Alright people this is a NSFMM post. Not Safe For My Mom. So please don’t share it with her or translate it into German!

A few weeks ago I happened to be back in Udon Thani, the city I’ve been working for three school terms, in order to attend this year’s graduation party. Since the party was on a Thursday I made it a long weekend and stayed a little longer back ‘home’ and, well, got a tattoo.

Now the question I’ve been asked so many times. ‘Why?’. It’s actually quite easy. I’ve been thinking about it for ages but never found the time to do it in Bangkok since I’m always quite busy over here. Either with work or with sports. Just never had the time to visit a tattoo studio or artist. I mailed some of them but the responses haven’t been that satisfying and when some of my former students mentioned the knew a good tattoo artist in Udon I went for it.

Ok so this covers why the tattoo in Udon. But most people ask me ‘Why in general? Why a tattoo?’ Once more a simple but probably not very satisfying answer. Coming here to Thailand and becoming a teacher / lecturer changed my complete life in it’s entirety so I strongly felt I need to engrave this change deeper into my mind & body. Might sound weird for a few of you, for me it made complete sense. I thought about it for over a year and now finally made the step.

Next question that comes up ‘what’s the tattoo like?’. Well it says the word ‘Ajarn’ (teacher/lecturer) in the languages of my students. 15 different languages to be precise. From Thai, Laotian, Chinese over to Korean, Hindi and Burmese. I won’t show a picture here since it’s something personal and I don’t want it to be copied or used by someone else.

Did it hurt? Well actually it didn’t hurt as much as expected when it started. I was kinda surprised and already prepared to stare into the wide open instead of looking on my arm where everything happened (unfortunately I could see everything mirrored in the glass door right in front of me) but it wasn’t that painful at first. Only my students, who helped with some translation (thanks again!) always looked quite scared and made some discomforting noises (uuuuh, aaaah, that must hurt…oh no so much blood,…). The pain then hit after around 90 minutes when the artist started to shade some areas and when he went into detail. The whole procedure took around 3 hours and I’m glad it didn’t take much longer.

After the tattoo was done now the experience I had as a newbie:

Cleaning a new tattoo: It’s slimey and needs to be done quite carefully. Washing it with water is fine according to my tattoo artist in udon thani – so that’s what I did and it turned out to be all fine. Cold or warm water – but no hot water!

Creme, Lotion, Ointment: Some say yes, some say no. The tattoo guys said ‘no need’, the internet said yes, and no, and yes, and no….So I went for the middle way: First no, then a little….so far it seems like it was an ok choice but I’ll never know how it would have looked like with another decision.

Healing & Peeling: The skin started to peel off after a few days which is part of the healing process. This means the tattoo loses a little (or a little more) of it’s strong color but that’s expected. It feels like a sunburn and might make you wanna scratch – but that’s obviously never a good idea. Keep your hands to yourself! Even if it looks a little strange while healing – you can’t change it anyways so wait for it – it will turn out fine.

Sport, Swimming & Showers: According to the internet you could do sports again almost right away. However, since I play (Beach) Volleyball I waited a good week before I started with Beachvolleyball again. Important to remember: Protect your tattoo from the sun – so I had to start playing with shirts with sleeves but that’s ok in order to keep the tattoo protected. Workout and stuff I started like 3 days after I got the tattoo when returning to BKK. Showers are fine too. Just don’t let the fresh tattoo get soaking wet and don’t shower to hot!

When it comes to swimming it’s important to not do it for 2 to 3 weeks (according to the internet again). I just went on a trip to Koh Tao and avoided snorkeling and swimming in the ocean even though it was quite hard.

Interesting: Sometimes the tattoo seemed to make the arm feel ‘hot’ or to cause some more sweat in its area. Not sure if that was a mental or an actual thing but interesting to notice.

Will I do it again? Who knows. Maybe. However only if the right idea and reason comes along.

Oh and…no, it didn’t happen like this ;p


Tattoos & Culture in Thailand

I received some questions regarding tattoo culture in Thailand. Many people said since it’s such an ‘old & conservative’ culture it might be reasonable that tattoos aren’t welcome in most parts of life.

Well actually tattoos are quite ‘famous’ right now over here. Especially ‘traditional’ tattoos a la Angelina Jolie. The follwing pictures show Angelina’s tattoo that is quite common right now and another kind of tattoo that is chosen by many young adults those days.

Having said that such kinds of tattoos are acceptable it doesn’t mean that everybody runs around with a tattoo. Even though it is quite ‘hip’ with young people right now the most still stay away from it.

Tattoo Artistry in general can be a big thing here. There are different kinds of tattoo techniques including the famous bamboo tattoo which is big here in Thailand. Furthermore there are a few quite famous tattoo schools and tattoo artists that have famous clients all over the world.

Nevertheless attention is still needed when it comes to picking a tattoo artists since there are simply so many of them, especially in tourist areas like Khaosan Road or the islands, to make sure you don’t end up with something you might regret in the end.

Sascha Funk

Founder / Editor at My-Thai.org
Sascha is the publisher of my-thai.org and switched from an online marketing agency life in Europe to a teaching and education life in Thailand. He also writes about Teaching & Technology.

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