Right before I was going to head to Thailand for my first 5 day solo trip ever, I ran across a post from BeMyTravelMuse about getting a Sak Yant tattoo and how it was the ultimate travel momento. I have been to quite a few countries so far, but I have not been able to give up my profession to travel… at least yet.

Wat Bang Phra Thailand, Sak Yant Tatto 15I really wanted to dive straight into the culture, meet some locals, do things on my own, without tours. So this tiny little thought kept popping into my head: Do something extraordinary, something you’ll always remember, live in the moment.

To be honest, I have never wanted a tattoo. In the Navy people use tattoo’s to define themselves and I have seen many a tattoo that I would never want to look in the mirror years later and still have. After reading the write-up on Sak Yant tattoos and scouring the internet for more information, this actually seemed like something worth while and something to look back on years later, especially because of the spiritual blessing associated.

Wat Bang Phra Thailand, Sak Yant Tatto 14So what is a Yantra/Sak Yant tattoo? Yantra tattooing originated in Cambodia with the use of ancient Khmer script writing. The monk uses a bamboo stick sharpened approx 50cm in length and punctures the tattoo into your body using an ink made of natural elements and not synthetic ink.  The monk chooses which tattoo you should receive based on your aura, although I think back in the day he would talk with you and determine which tattoo and blessing you would receive but today there are many people that come for tattoos so there is not as much time. There is a long list of Sak Yant tattoos to choose from and each one comes with a different type of blessing associated with it and the script.

Wat Bang Phra Thailand, Sak Yant Tatto 12Wat Bang Phra is located 50km outside of Bangkok and Buddhist Monk Luang Pi Nunn is a master tattoo artist and I was very excited to get a tattoo from him. There’s a bus that leaves daily from Bangkok to go to Wat Bang Phra, but I woke up a little late and decided to take a taxi there. When I arrived at the temple, there was a table that was selling offerings for 160Baht about $4US. I bought my offering and then they ushered me inside. I was very determined to go through with this but I was really nervous for which tattoo the monk would choose for me and how painful it would be.

When I went into the room to wait, I saw an Australian guy also waiting and I sat down silently, but whispered with him to calm my nerves. He had been traveling for the past couple of months through Europe and his next stop was Phuket to visit his cousin. I watched 8 people get their tattoos before me, so I was actually excited by the time it was my turn.

The offerings you give to the monk before he gives you the tattoo.

Buddhist Monks are not allowed to touch women so he put a pillow in between us to ensure I didn’t touch him. I took a few photos without the flash but its not common to have any photography during the tattooing  because it would be distracting.

Wat Bang Phra Thailand, Sak Yant Tatto 11This was the offering our group gave to him and he blessed it right before he started tattooing.

Wat Bang Phra Thailand, Sak Yant Tatto 9All of the women before me got the Hah Taew and so that is the one I got as well. It is placed on the upper left shoulder. There are 5 lines and each line represents something different. Generally the Hah Taew represents the 5 things below:

1. First row prevents unjust punishment and leans in your favor when the area is grey, and gives you protection.
2. Second row reverses and protects against bad luck.
3. Third row protects you from the use of black magic and anyone who tries to put a curse on you.
4. Fourth row energizes your good luck, success and fortune in your future ambitions and life style.
5. Fifth row is to gain charisma and attraction to the opposite sex.

Wat Bang Phra Thailand, Sak Yant Tatto 8

Wat Bang Phra Thailand, Sak Yant Tatto 6

Wat Bang Phra Thailand, Sak Yant Tatto 4The Sak Yant tattoo is a series of dots that are tapped into the skin to make a picture. Here is one of the tattoo’s one of the guys got.

Wat Bang Phra Thailand, Sak Yant Tatto 3One of the girls I met offered to give me a ride back to Bangkok with her and her boyfriend. She was so nice and if I wasn’t on my way to Pattaya I would have definitely taken her up on her offer. She and I got the same tattoo, and she spoke very good English from working at a hotel in Dubai the past couple of years. We would have been fast friends if we had more time together.

After she was finished, the Australian went, and then it was my turn. They positioned me on my side and the two guys held my shoulders like hers above and then the tap tapping began. It was pretty painful and I just tried to remain as still as possible not moving an inch. In less than 10 minutes the tattoo was completed. Afterwards the monk blew on the tattoo and spoke a blessing over it then I bowed down to him 3 times and gave him an envelope with another offering in it. I put 100BAHT more in there.

Wat Bang Phra Temple, just outside of Bangkok. There is a Sak Yant festival held here every year where many people get Sak Yant tattoos and allow their bodies to be taken over the spirit of the tattoo.

Wat Bang Phra Thailand, Sak Yant Tatto 2

Wat Bang Phra Thailand, Sak Yant Tatto

Sak Yant TattooThe tattoo took less than 10 minutes and it healed in about 15 minutes. This was taken a few days later but it looked the same from the moment I got it. This tattoo was a blessing and one I take seriously. It has made me reflect on life and it makes me enjoy the simple things everyday!

This article appeared first on the Cassey Excursion.