Vacation2thailand

This is a great site if you want to learn more about visiting Thailand. I have an article on there, but this site is good in its own right! Lovely photography on there and some interesting articles to read. Give it a go : http://www.vacation2thailand.com

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Sak Yant blessing day at the temple

It was a very hot morning when we set off to the temple for the blessings ceremony, also known as the Wai Kru. The humidity was off the scales and we were all glad of the air conditioning in the mini bus. I was with the team from Bangkok-ink.com, and members of the tattoo-school-thailand.com and sakyantmagicalthaitattoo.com .

The Wai Kru is a special Buddhist ceremony where respect is shown to teachers and Masters. In this case it was an opportunity for the wearers of sacred traditional Sak Yant tattoos to go and have them blessed . Some people go every year to have  the energy and power within the tattoos refreshed. In Asia, the tattoos are worn to give various blessings and forms of protection from the  difficulties you may encounter in life, such as ill health, danger or lack of love.

More fascinating  information on the Sak Yant traditional Thai tattoos can be found at this link Sakyantmagicalthaitattoo.com .Happy reading!

On arrival at the temple we came across a large bridge at the entrance to the temple. People were standing on the bridge feeding fish pellets to the massive fish in the river. Murky looking the water may be, but it is teaming with healthy life, from the freakily big cat fish to the turtles and eels which thrive in it’s nutrient rich water.

Having crossed the bridge, we entered the courtyard of the temple. There were stalls either side of the path selling everything you might need for a temple visit, from hand made flower offerings to sweets made from rice flour and egg yolk. My inner photographer thrilled at the cloudburst of colours in the temple. This was going to be fun!

An ancient Thai monk was already installed on a raised platform, ochre coloured robes draped around his body, microphone in hand ready to chant to the people going past him. I smiled and showed respect, but doubted he could see me with his rheumy old eyes. It didn’t matter, my respect would be felt anyway.

We removed our shoes and went up the marble steps to the main event. Stunning images of the Buddha were at the back of the platform, surrounded by fresh flowers in every hue on earth. The main monk was seated at the front, texting on his mobile phone in one hand and eating spiced nuts with the other. The master of ceremonies monk had his microphone ready for the opening prayer and the lay people were ready to control the crowd.

The announcement was made for people to come forward and they made three orderly lines in front of the main monk. Each person was holding a plate of offerings, usually flowers, incense and fruit in the first two lines. The third line were making small offerings of money to the temple which was placed in a basket in front of the third monk.

The first line was the main line. The men in it removed their shirts to display the Sak Yant tattoos they were covered with. This line was for men only as it was the line to get a gold needle inserted into the skin of the chest to bring good luck and protection. The first man came forward and showed respect to the monk and presented his offering  plate. The monk took the plate and began to make magic symbols with his finger on the face and around the eyes of his disciple. I noticed the monk was pressing lightly on the shiatsu points above the eyes and on the forehead where the third eye is reputed to be.

The monk then proceeded to insert the pin into the upper chest. The person receiving the pin showed no sign of pain or distress. Indeed, they looked calm and at peace while it was done and slightly stunned when the process was finished.

The second queue was for men, women or children to receive the blessing from the monk holding the Ruesi mask. You can learn more about Ruesi by visiting sakyantmagicalthaitattoo.com .The person would sit in the lotus position in front of the monk and make their offering. The monk would then chant the magical mantras and hold the Ruesi mask over the head of the recipient before placing it over the head. One child in the ritual protested and everyone laughed. Laughter and fun are never far away  here in Thailand. Even the proceedings at an important ceremony such as this is never taken too seriously while people are taking part, even though it is a very important event in their life.

Some of the adults began to shake when the Ruesi mask was placed close to them during the ritual. There is always a chance that the person may shake vigorously or even go into a trance due to the strong power exuded by the masks and the blessing. But the lay people are ever present to help coax you gently back to the present and you are in very safe hands. They are the experts in such matters, as are the monks.

The third queue is the one I decided to join. The people wait , patiently smiling at me, for their turn. It is my turn and I put my small donation in the basket and the person collecting it Wai’s and shows respect in return to mine. I look at the monk and he has a kind and peaceful face. He draws an ancient symbol on my forehead and chants a blessing, I can’t help but smile at him and return the kindness and compassion.  Then he shows me to hold my hands open in front of him, shaped like a cup to receive the next blessings. He draws magical symbols on both my hands in what feels like thick white chalk paint.

I look at him and the lay helper as I feel an enormous rush of energy go through my body. What began as a small vibration in my hands when he drew the symbol, has now become a flood of positive energy through my whole body. I hope I am not going to go into a trance. I don’t , but the energizing effect persists and my hands shake all afternoon, long after the event is over.

We leave in the late afternoon and the queues are still the same size as when we arrived. These Wai Kru events take place throughout the year, depending on the Master and the Temple. Some are timed to take place on days of the full moon, which are important days here in Thailand. The size of the audience varies, from a few hundred devotees to tens of thousands at the most popular temples with famous Masters of Sak Yant. I am looking forward to the next one. Watch this space!

 

Thailand, here I come!

On Monday afternoon I will be taking flights from Athens to Abu Dhabi, then Abu Dhabi to Bangkok in Thailand.  Before that I will be leaving my home in Corfu, Greece and flying to Athens. Whether I fly in winter or summer, I allow an extra day in case of strikes, bad storms or even fog coming in and delaying my flight. This extra day has paid off many times.

I will be travelling with my favourite airline ,Etihad airways. It seems apt that they were the first airline to take me to Thailand and now I am returning for an indefinite stay,  I am travelling with them again. Their service at Economy level flying is fantastic.

I actually love long haul flights. Since you can go nowhere while you are on the aircraft , I use the time to relax and enjoy myself. The food and snacks seem endless and they provide gluten free for me with no hassle. The drinks are free flowing too, but since I am a non drinker I appreciate the endless water and juice….and great joy!Filtered coffee than you can actually enjoy.

I settle down and choose which new movies to watch, or read my book, or even chant mantras silently to myself. I might just frighten people if I do it out loud lol. If the flight gets turbulent  I put on some chill out music and the headphones. It seems to help with the turbulence and relaxes me. If I am near a noisy child or even a noisy adult, then my silicone ear plugs are the best solution ever. Keep a smile on my face and they think you are super tolerant and happy.

 

But the flight  that is too early tomorrow morning is only for an hour. I usually have just a quick coffee on board as they never serve a snack I can actually eat. I will get to Athens then have a free shuttle bus to the sea front hotel I have booked. I booked it online and got a good price, two free shuttles too and from the airport and a big buffet breakfast. I can happily live with that at just forty euros. It is cheaper than taking a taxi at the airport.

I enjoy the extra night, time to have a nice meal at a local tavern, a refreshing walk along the sea front and then a hot shower and early night to relax and get some sleep. I might even watch a bit of tv for the novelty value as I sold mine months ago. Hopefully the hotel will have a good wifi connection so my friends don’t all send me messages on my phone asking if I have arrived in Thailand yet. Not yet my friends!

Next day I have time for a leisurely big breakfast, hopefully gluten free as requested. They will take me to the airport where I have to be three hours before check in. It is easy with Etihad and the staff are very polite and helpful. I love Athens airport, compact and no frills and airs and graces….a bit like me really .

I will have time for one of the delicious hot cappuchinos at the café there and at the moment the caramel cappuchino has my name on it. My first flight is five hours, then I have  a break for three hours at Abu Dhabi airports. I love the airports in the  Middle East, with their polite and efficient staff and easy transfer of luggage that they take responsibility for. Qatar airways only gave me one hour for the change over of planes and I literally had to run from one terminal to the next. Never again, I asked for more time and they gave it me, as well as transferring my flight to the same terminal so I have no running to do this time.

My second flight is to Bangkok and will take five and a half hours . I will nap between movies as by this time it will be after midnight. I never sleep for long on the plane, there is too much going on. Besides, it takes a while to watch Miss Peregrine’s home for peculiar children three times because the meals and snacks keep disturbing your enjoyment of it.

I will most likely take the sky train in Bangkok to my destination. By the time I leave the airport terminal the rush hour will be over. I love the sky train and Bangkok, one of my favourite cities on Earth. My destination is only a couple of minutes walk from the sky train and I will be travelling light as usual.

More updates to follow….. I need to hoover the house, then coffee is on the menu… Continue reading

Returning to Thailand

At the beginning of May I am setting off on my journey back to Thailand. I will be using this site to document my daily life and my incredible journey back to the country that I love. I lived  in Thailand before when I worked at Mahidol University school in Salaya.

 

I will be setting up new websites for my travel writing and photographs. I would like to welcome all my friends and new readers who enjoy following my day to day life and incredible experiences as I travel through life. I will be posting more photographs and videos on my sites. Looking forward to sharing with you all. Thank you

 

 

My Sak Yant tattoo experience

My Sak Yant Story

My husband John had survived five full years in the Royal Navy, many runs ashore with his mates and a close encounter with a tattooist who refused to tattoo a very delicate part of his anatomy one drunken trip to Malaysia. It came as no surprise to me that when I expressed my wish to get a tattoo several times over the years, he always came up with a good reason not to have one.

When we moved to Thailand to live during my contract teaching at the university there, I broached the subject again to him. I had seen an article and a website about Sak Yant sacred tattoos and it really interested me to read about their history and spiritual significance. However, he pointed out that my bosses would definitely frown on me getting one done while I worked at the university. I continued to browse the website designs, which were now on my book marks list on my computer. The designs were so intricate and beautiful , infused with meaning and magic.

Last year, my husband was very ill with cancer of the blood and bone. He told me that he understood the wish I had for a Sacred tattoo, a Sak Yant. He told me to go ahead and get one on my future travels and to pay for the best and get one that was a true work of art.

So a year later and I am back in Thailand, a lone female traveller at the age of 61. Fortunately still very fit and active, I had followed his wishes and gone back to my favourite country, Thailand. There is something so special about this diverse country and its amazing people. I had decided to seek out a Sak Yant Master who was willing to do a Sak Yant tattoo for a woman. Not all of them will tattoo a woman.

I had read about the famous temple where you could go at the crack of dawn and form a queue with all the other Sak Yant seeking Nomads who had turned up to get tattooed by the monk on duty that day. Fortunately I read many of the reviews underneath the article and had decided it was not for me. I might just be at the end of the queue and chicken out or I might just get unlucky with the needles used for more than one person in the communal ink pot. After experiencing an emergency landing at Bangkok airport this trip there was no way I was taking any more chances.

I started exchanging emails with Paeng at Bangkok ink about their Sak Yant service. It sounded good to me but I am afraid I was very vague as to what I actually wanted. Thankfully she had a huge amount of patience and good command of English and eventually helped me to make a decision and a date was set.

I didn’t sleep the night before, partly through nerves at the thought of having my first tattoo but also because of the excitement of going through such an amazing experience. I arrived at Bangkok Ink studio early after taking the bus for an hour then the sky train. Paeng and the driver welcomed me into the lovely limo and took me to see Ajarn Ohr for my Sak Yant tattoo experience.

It was about an hours drive but she gave me water to hydrate and explained what the day would entail. She was very friendly and soon put me at my ease. On arriving my eyes met the monster trucks parked in the drive way…..not quite what I had expected to see! She explained that Master Ohr used them to take supplies to the poor villagers he supported with help of donations for the tattoos and that I was welcome to take photos of them.

I went into the room where Ajarn Ohr was seated and waiting . The room was full of Buddhist statues and various gold masks that were beautiful. It was very peaceful and calm. Paeng showed him the tattoo I had in mind and explained to him in Thai that I had said I felt I lost my main protector in life when I lost John. He smiled at me and told he how to sit for the tattoo on my back.

The pain was not as bad as I expected and stopped as soon as the needle left my skin, no burning and no soreness. It was only painful over the spine and that was soon over. Paeng, meanwhile had taken my camera and filmed some still shots for me and a short video. It was over quicker than I thought it would be and Ajarn Ohr blessed the tattoo. Paeng took a photo on my camera so that I could see it. It was stunning, a beautiful Gao Yor, nine spires, between my shoulders. Wow!

It was much bigger than I had expected but I was thrilled with it. Obviously the Master added the bigger protection that I felt I needed. It was an incredible experience for me. I paid my respects and thanked him and went outside to offer flowers and incense to the statue in the garden. It was an amazing day and I felt happy and peaceful as I left for the drive back to Bangkok.

I cannot recommend the Sak Yant experience by Bangkok Ink studios . Here are the links to their websites

bangkok-ink.com

thaitattoosakyant.co.uk

thaitattoosakyant-usa.com

sakyantmagicalthaitattoo.com

tattoo-school-thailand.com

oneshopasia.com

or if you want more detailed information or to book an appointment, try

Paeng@bangkok-ink.com

Incidentally , I went back for another Sak Yant, a crystal lotus, less than two weeks later, again by Master Ohr. I know a magician and craftsman when I meet one.

Janet Darbey