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Jun 14

No pain, no gain

Posted on Sunday, June 14, 2009 in Tattoos

It may be hard to believe, but in touristy areas of Thailand the ratio of tattoo studios to shops is even greater than the ratio of pubs to shops here at home in Ireland.  Seems impossible businesswise, but almost every other shop offers some sort of skin engraving practice.  It’s impossible not to be tempted.

The difference with tattoo studios in Thailand is that they offer Bamboo Tattoos, a practice that began roughly 3,000 years ago.  When I first heard about this form of tattooing I was dubious.  I imagined some dude gouging chunks of skin from my upper epidermis with a blunt piece of wood and that idea didn’t tickle my fancy so much, until I was told fervently that bamboo tattooing is far less painful, takes less time, and the results last a lot longer.  These first two facts are pure fibs… but the last is very true.  The basic concept is the same as with machine tattooing… a needle, or a row of needles are inserted into a long bamboo pipe, dipped in ink, and are then used to stab pigment into the skin.

The following is a clip of The Accidental Terrorist having a Thai dragon imprinted on his calf;

With a machine, this tattoo could have been completed within two hours, but would take a long time to heal, and would most likely fade and be in need of re-touching within three years.   The bamboo technique took almost four hours, but was pretty much done with its healing process within three days, and won’t need re-touching most likely – I’ll get back to you in a decade or so with a more definitive result!

We both inscribed each other’s names on our inner wrist (an area known apparently to be associated with disconnecting from one’s past and beginning a new future) in the Thai dialect, then later got complete strangers to proof-read the words to make sure we hadn’t been duped.  Unfortunately, to TAT’s despair, there is no ‘T’ sound in the Thai language, so he is now walking around with a tattoo that says ‘Kane’.  I may need to change my name by deed pole which will play havoc with the name of this blog.  ‘Kane the plain’?

Here’s mine;


And a gecko on my foot, the result of a new fascination of mine.  I really wouldn’t mind returning in the next life as a gecko… they’re quiet, retiring, and make the most comical noises I’ve ever heard from a creature on this earth.  Since getting this tattoo, I wasn’t bitten by a mosquito once.  I’m not sure whether that’s a coincidence or not.


If you do find yourself in Thailand in search of a tattoo, my only advice to you would be to shop around.  While undoubtedly the artists are all very talented, some may not necessarily be all that clean.  Find yourself a friendly tattoo’d local, or a long term tourist who has experience in this field… someone who knows reliable studios who won’t give you hepatitis and won’t rip you off.  The only other problem you’ll have apart from that, is feeling like a kid in a sweet warehouse.  Yep… good luck with that!


Mating call of a male Gecko (Tokay);


Sounds a bit like a weirdo hiding in the bushes with a Kazoo.

Guaranteed to scare the pants off you when you least expect it.

Bring on the comments

  1. Cat says:

    That gecko is absolutely gorgeous!

  2. All those tattoo studios, sounds like West Virginia.

    Maybe I shouldn’t mention, but in Hawaiian “kane” means man or male. So many ways to take that now, but…I think I’ll leave it alone.

    Your foot’s lovely!

  3. I love your geko, the foot is a beeyotch to get done I have both mine done, tattoos are addictive, Maxi says if I get any more he’ll sell me to the circus. Did it hurt alot on the wrist??

  4. K8 says:

    Cat; Thanks! Can’t get a good photo of him though, he’s at an awkward angle!

    Susan; That’s handy *sic* I suppose, at least if he goes to Thailand again, everyone will know he’s a bloke.

    Jelly Monster; Welcome to d’blog :) The wrist tattoo was fine… yer man was pressing between the two wrist bones for the most part which made my whole hand go completely numb. I didn’t feel a thing for the filling in part! The foot/ankle was a whole different story. PAINFUL or what?

  5. Baino says:

    God you’re a sucker for punishment. I’m far to scared to get one and I apparently have a very high pain threshold. I like the wristy one tho.Gecko’s are extremely cool. We don’t have them in Sydney but plenty up in the tropics. Our lizards are silent, their visit’s marked only by poo and 12″ tails disappearing under the couch.

  6. K8 says:

    Cool!! Grab one next time and post it over willya? I’ve a serious fly epidemic going on here.

  7. Jo says:

    Kate, honey, you are a very brave, and very funny woman. I laughedoutlouded three times reading this. Can’t wait to see the tats in the flesh!

    Not the TAT, now, the tats…

  8. geomark says:

    There are 8 letters that make the “T” sound in Thai. In fact, the Thai alphabet has letters that distinguish between aspirated and unaspirated “T”, making it more precise than English. Not sure where you got the idea that there is no “T” sound in the language. Far from it.

    The tattoo was probably supposed to say เคท and instead says เคน – somebody made a mistake.

  9. unstranger says:

    Interesting take on mosquito guard! You could be on to something there.

  10. K8 says:

    Jo; We met a ladyboy who’d engraved a flowery anklet on his own foot… that’s brave! It’s really hard to torture one’s self, I much prefer when somebody else does it.

    Geomark; Thanks for that comment – I had a feeling that dude was taking the piss!! They do that a lot over there, don’t they?
    Nice one also for printing the right version… it does indeed most definitely says เคท. Phew.

    Unstranger; Butterflies are giving me strange looks though.

  11. Ooh, I love your gecko! I have a slightly faded lizard on my ankle which I’m rather fond of but I sometimes wish I’d held out for something different. If I had done, I might have gone for a foot instead of an ankle – I really like foot tattoos.

  12. unstranger says:

    Butterflies don’t know shit!

  13. Brianf says:

    Ha! Nice ink. I’m also getting another one. This time I’m going for a cross on my right arm. I like the Gecko.

  14. I have been told that getting a tattoo on the top of your foot is the most painful kind.

    You are truly hardcore woman.

  15. K8 says:

    Jenny; You should work on what you have! Make a foot atmosphere for him.. tattoo a knarly branch for him to sit on :)

    Unstranger; I’m holding out for the wasp reaction.

    BrianF; They’d love you in Thailand.

    Kelley; I went to my happy place. They were sadoes in there – the tattoo artist smacked me hard on the raw skin carnage several times as punishment for flinching, and giggled every single time. I cut the brake-cord on his motorbike! See how much he giggles then.

    Warrior; Meh…

  16. Question is, am I brave enough for more?!

  17. Mosquito says:

    Mosquito’s repellents are very bad for human health and has been creating more body weakness

    Any other way to get rid of these mosquito

  18. K8 says:

    Jenny; You know you are :)

    Mosquito; I’m told that drinking Quinine (Tonic Water) is a brilliant deterrent. Also there’s always Citronella or Lemongrass oil, both make for a beautiful smell. Far more effective than Deet if y’ask me.

  19. Shemale posts are the best stress relief ever

  20. K8 says:

    Hello Happy Ladyboy! When you say posts do you mean blog posts, or the slightly harder kind? <3

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