If your average tatt isn’t tough enough, wear your ego on your sleeve with a Sak Yant (traditional tattoo) from Thailand’s Wat Bang Phra temple. Bestowed by monks wielding 18-inch needles, these lucky charms are said to be strong enough to stop bullets, and come with some serious body art cred. Enter the temple and deposit your offering of flowers and cigarettes onto the pile and take a quick look at the banner on the temple wall, displaying a selection of animal designs, complete with embellished whorls for added pain. Choose your favourite beast or let an assigned monk brand you as he sees fit.
Before you’re poked and prodded, custom requires you to step into the role of assistant – a practice dividing the proud from the petrified. Clamp still the poor sap before you, so they can’t squirm as the double-pronged instrument plunders their skin. Each tattoo requires at least 3,000 jabs before the template gives way to a final bloody welt, giving you plenty of time to reassess your vanity. Once your buddy’s stamp is blessed, present your flesh and set your face to stoic. As the monk swills his used needle in a pot of alcohol, you better hope your new stamp protects you against more than just evil spirits.
It’s going to hurt, and you might come home with a blood-borne disease.