Getting a tattoo while travelling. Great souvenir or terrible mistake?
Personally I think that it is a great idea and I had one done while I was in Vietnam. The downside of travelling for prolonged periods of time is that you don’t really get to pick up any meaningful souvenirs of the places that you have visited. Sure, you see a lot of great (and not so great) stuff in the shops and markets but everything that you buy is money off your budget and weight in your backpack. A tattoo on the other hand, is a permanent, lasting memory of the person that you were.
I have seen some great tattoos as I have travelled around and I wish that I had photographed them. Friends I have met have been tattooed in every country they have visited – I love the idea of becoming a living, breathing passport! I agree that getting a tattoo while travelling is not something to be taken lightly and certainly should never be the result of a drunken decision, dare or pressure from a friend. But as a well-considered decision, I think it is a great idea.
My tattoo is the result of a number of years hesitation and consideration. I had all the usual doubts. How much will it hurt? Will it compromise future job prospects? Will I grow to hate it over time? What will it look like as I get older? Can I still wear a nice top or dress? Finally I decided to take the plunge and celebrate the end of my life in Vietnam by getting a tattoo.
There was just one problem. I could find very little information about getting a tattoo in Vietnam. Thailand is famous for tattoos and many travellers head to the famous artists of the Khao San Road to get the obligatory travel tattoo. When I visited these tattoo parlours I found them overpriced, touristy and somewhat seedy. I wanted my tattoo done in Vietnam, it had been my home for 3 years and I would always remember it with fondness.
Thankfully I discovered Saigon Ink through the recommendation of a friend. Located at 26 Tran Hung Dao, just a stone’s throw away from the backpacker district, Saigon Ink is a big player on Saigon’s growing tattoo scene. Clean and sterile, I certainly felt more comfortable booking an appointment in this shop rather than the dingy upstairs parlours along the Khao San road. I was greeted by a friendly girl at the counter who spoke good English and was only too happy to advise me on my design. Despite the fact that she informed me that the process would be ‘very long, very painful’ we agreed a time and price and I made my appointment.
My chosen design was of a lily – my favourite flower and a childhood nickname. I thought it would be appropriate and feminine. I decided to place it just above my left hip-bone where it would be covered most of the time but visible on the beach. The whole thing took about 35 minutes and cost me 1,000,000vnd (about £30). I was very happy with the result and do not regret it at all.
Is getting a tattoo while travelling a good or bad idea? Please use the comments below to let me know your thoughts!