At 3.30am I was already in a taxi on my way to an unknown Thai temple, with an unknown taxi driver who didn't speak a word in English and I didn't know any Thai. At that point, I was only hoping that I won't spend 3h driving to then discover that the taxi driver took me to a complete opposite direction as he misunderstood the address I’ve given him. One thing that you have to know while traveling around Asia (whether it is Thailand or big cosmopolitan Hong Kong) you need your desired address written in the native language otherwise you won't get anywhere. This is obviously completely understandable as why do everyone have to speak English? It also adds that extra spice to the whole experience, doesn't it?
2,5h hours later and I noticed characteristic orange robes appearing every now and then on the sleepy streets of one of the Thai villages we were passing by. We were at the right location! Thai temples are incredible, this culture takes their Gods really seriously.
We were allowed to go inside just after 8:30am. Regardless how early you arrive, Thai people always go first (that's also fair, Sak yant thai tattoo is not strictly speaking a tourist attraction). You need to donate a gift to the Gods and you can get it from the Tempe. It's just a small bunch of fresh flowers and a pack of cigarets (mainly for the monk not for the Gods). All comes up to 75 baht (equivalent of £2 and don't try to give more, they will give it back to you).
Thai monks are not allowed to touch, look or speak to a woman, so I was fully aware this mission may be a big failure. After 4hours of waiting I was asked to come closer, use the pillow and kneel. I was the only woman in the room and everything smelled of instances and sweat. It’s not a tattoo parlour or a shopping centre - you don't get the choice what design you are going to get. The monk prays to the Gods and asks them what blessing is most needed in your life. What is missing and how to protect you. You only know your tattoo is going to be on your back and it's going to hurt as it's made by a simple bamboo stick with a needle, not a professional tattooing equipment. They use a different needle but the same ink, they also do it on the floor and don't disinfect your skin (or their hands). You are being held by two men and not allowed to move. After the tattoo is finished the monk prays and lets you go.
When I finally emerged out of the Temple, my taxi driver was still there (thank heavens!) waiting with a tube of Vaseline to cover the tattoo (something I didn’t consider myself as I have never had done one before). Thai people are very honest, if they say they do something, they will. I will always be very grateful for this man waiting in the heat until this whole experience is over and not laving me in the middle of nowhere, a bit overwhelmed, sore and with no clear idea how I am going to get home.
Sak yant thai tattoo is a type of Yantra tattooing. Every tattoo consists of sacred designs and phrases that offer strength, protection, fortune and other benefits for the bears. Each of the five lines of the Hah Taew Yant that I have, carries a different meaning. Each of them symbolises powerful and sacred blessing of protection.
Why did I do it? At that point of my life, I needed a powerful affirmation that everything is going to be ok. That I am protected against all the evil, that I won’t be hurt again. It's been a few years now and every time I get a glimpse of my tattoo, either in the mirror or on the picture, I know this is going to protect me. I always have that powerful feeling in my gut, feeling of strength and confidence that my life is going in the right direction. We all have ways of fighting the fear, this was mine.