You may or may not have heard about the Sak Yant tattoo festival before, but after hearing this episode of the Bangkok Podcast, you sure as darn heck won’t be able to forget about it. For years travelers have been entertained by tales of screaming men rushing the stage, possessed by the spirits of the tattoos that cover their bodies in sheets of intricate sub-dermal ink. But it’s not merely an odd tourist attraction – the men who have them, the monks who give them, and the shamans who ‘recharge’ them all hold the tattoos – and the power they say they represent – in the highest regard.
With an origin story that involves a Burmese invasion, sinking boats, lost Buddha images, and man-eating tigers, it sounds like something from a novel by Graham Greene or Joseph Conrad, but it’s all – very probably – true. Evo and his lovely wife Sheila headed up to Wat Bang Phra in Nakhon Pathom – about 50km west of Bangkok – to check out the festivities and boy did they get the goods. Hanging out with devotees on Friday evening and then recording their screams, gurgles, laughs, and chants on the Saturday, Evo gives a description of what it’s like in the middle of the action. Those screams, gurgles, laughs and chants can be heard in the podcast, by the way. Here’s a few pictures – but head over to Sheila’s Flickr album to see more.
Love, Loathe or Leave?
Evo springs his LLoL on Greg – what does he think of the national anthem that plays every day at 8am and 6pm? Is it an annoying distraction, a treasured cultural identifier, or something in between? Have a listen to the song in the video below if you’re not familiar, then follow along with their discussion at home!
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