Ready to rumble for the final tattoo round!
In this final round I’d like to present two amazing guys, originally from Ireland and Canada.
Our next tattood traveller is Johnny – and I am sure you have heard of his Blog OneStep4Ward.
Visiting every country in the world sounds like a challenge, right? If he would have get a tattoo in every country he has visited so far, I guess his body would almost be fully covered.
I am following his adventures for almost 3 years and I am fascinated by his adventures and the lifestyle he has created – starting with Blogging.
„I’ve been traveling to every country in the world since 2007, when my contract teaching English in Chiang Mai, Thailand was up. Despite the two hundred or so countries in the world, my heart belongs in Thailand – I love it there, and I’m ‚based‘ in Bangkok now when I’m not on the road. I’ve studied Thai for years, so I got a tattoo, in Thai, on my ribcage saying – „Live for today“. It represents my love, and my base in Thailand, while also stating something I do, every single day of my life.“
A Canadian Nomad and his Sak Yant
And of course such a Roundup needs a speacial story in the end!
After a first contact in Chiang Mai, I met Ian at the DNX Global in Bangkok in march. We have had a few beers and a really nice chat! So I am really happt that he is talking about his story!
His is Ian Ord, and he’s the founder of the boutique travel company Where Sidewalks End – Canadian born but living in South East Asia since 2011.
„Let me go back several years, to where this story all began. I had been living in Asia for nearly a year when my parents decided to pay me a visit. It would be only their second big international trip together in the last few decades, and one of the most adventurous. We spent a couple weeks exploring our way from Chiang Rai in northern Thailand down to Bangkok and having the best time of our lives! We were just boarding the bus to head into Cambodia together when the unthinkable happened. My father went into convulsions on the bus. He was having a severe cardiac arrest. The trip quickly turned from something out of a fairytale to something out of a nightmare.
Though resuscitated, he was left in a coma. My brother and uncle quickly joined my mother and I from Canada, as we would spend the next month together in limbo. This was my brother’s first time travelling abroad, and not the introduction I had planned for him (and of course not for my parents). It was a challenging month together, though we learned how to operate as a family in a way we had never had to before. My brother suggested we get a tattoo, and had even read about this magical tattoo performed in Thailand which was said to protect those who wore it against various afflictions. With a little research, we ventured off a few days later to the countryside surrounding Bangkok, and were quickly whisked into a subculture we knew very little about.
Though we had done a little research prior, there were very few guidelines for us to follow. We knew of a symbol which was said to give protection to those who travel – being a nomad of sorts, it was a give-in this was the protection I would seek, and for my brother, on his first trip across the world, it made complete sense for him as well. As we quietly and curiously waited in cue, it was soon our turns. Whispering a very rough attempt at the name we had read for the sak yant desired, and the monk simply grunted acknowledgement and begun his magic.
Using a long metal rod, he dipped it in ink and pounded away by hand meticulously and rhythmically piercing the skin. The pain was tremendous, though within 20 minutes he was already done and tapping me with a whisk dipped in water, in a ceremony I didn’t understand though knew that it was now complete. Soon after, my brother underwent the same process. We had now been branded with a magic we didn’t really understand, but could only hope would help us get though what laid ahead for our family.
Not long after, I published a story about getting inked in Thailand and the post went viral. It seemed everyone all of a sudden wanted to replicate my brother’s and my experience. About a year after publication, that article still proved to be an incredible traffic driver to my website, and I was happy to have been able to help so many attempt to replicate a similar experience of going headfirst into an ancient practice of something fully foreign and almost incomprehensible to the depth in which it goes.
Through answering endless questions on the blog post regarding hygiene, quality and traditions, I learned a substantial amount about this practice. I learned some truths about sak yant which most tourists overlook, or never find out about. I started to understand just how important this practice was to the locals who partake in it, and that though it was a thing of beauty, there was a much deeper connection to be made to the symbol chosen for you. It was only after a reader asked me to join her and that I was able to share this information with her that I realized there was a need for people to understand more. Sak yant should not just be a travel souvenir, but something of deep personal meaning – not just for those who know all the legends, and stories surrounding the magic and meanings, but to anyone who wants to get ‘under the skin’ about this ancient practice and have more of a cultural exchange.
If you asked me at pretty much any stage in my life if I would be helping foreigners get bamboo tattoos from monks in Asia, helping them break down cultural barriers and helping monks be able to share their wisdom – I may not have thought you crazy, but it was certainly not the direction I thought my life would take me in. Now, with the memory of my father, and those shared with my brother and my family imprinted on my back, along with the wisdom gained, I love helping others find the protections and enchantments they seek in their life. The more personal the goals, fears, challenges or passions they share with the monk – the more personal the meaning will be to them and deeper connection they will establish with the sacred practice.“
Thank you so much Ian – what a unique story!
And thank you again Pana, Marcus, Yvonne, Kristin, Sara and Marco, Tanja and Bibo, Johnny and Ian for being part of this Roundup!
Take care and always safe travels!