Bangkok Ink and Ajarn Ohr Borthong

Even though I wanted my first tattoo to be a traditional Thai Sak Yant, this wasn’t the case. In December of the same year in which I got my first tattoo from Sean Parry, I managed to arrange with Paeng at Bangkok Ink to visit one of their resident Sak Yant masters (or Ajarn in Thai, which also means teacher) named Ajarn Ohr Borthong. Bangkok Ink itself is a well renowned tattoo studio and their service included being picked up from my hotel and transported to Ajarn Ohr’s house 2 hours outside of Bangkok. Ajarn Ohr’s home was bustling with other tattoo devotees and after a short wait it was my turn.

Ajarn Ohr is so skilled that he doesn’t need to use a stencil for his tattoos, he just marks off the boundaries of the area the Sak Yant will cover and tattoos from memory. He is also incredibly fast and all the ink done in this session was completed in 4 hours. In terms of the pain, well a tattoo does involve a needle pushing ink under your skin so at the least it will be uncomfortable. But with that said it is bearable for the most part, with my lower back being the area which I struggled with the most especially directly on my spine. Pain will vary from individual to individual though, regardless of the tattoo technique or area being inked. The main difference between being inked with a machine versus being hand-poked is that with hand poking the ink is only pushed under the skin whereas with a machine it’s still being pushed under but the skin is also being torn as the needle is dragged. This means that machine tattoos are a notch higher in pain levels and the healing time is also longer. Many people think that being hand poked is more painful but it only looks that way in application. The less trauma to the skin from hand poking means that the tattoo heals in about half the time of a machine based tattoo. Hand poking is a significantly longer process though, so it comes down to being able to endure less trauma for a longer time versus more trauma over a shorter time period for machine tattoos.

Bangkok Ink is still around but Paeng has moved on to open her own tattoo business, Thai Tattoo Cafe.

The Sak Yants I received:

Hah Taew: The 5 line yant, with each line representing a magical spell. Each spell is determined by the tattoo master and examples are: reversing bad horoscope predictions, protection from evil, enhancing charisma, and bringing good fortune. The origin of this tattoo dates back to over 700 years ago.

Hanuman: A Hindu monkey god whose Sak Yant bestows the bearer with protection from danger, becoming fearless in the face of adversity, increased confidence, and mental focus, among others.

Kwai Tanu: A buffalo whose greatest power is to ward off black magic.

Paetch Payatorn: A boar which grants the bearer strong charisma and business skills.