Travel writer, Charlie Dakin, gives a rare account of the unique opportunity of visiting North KoreaWritten by Redbrick on 21st February 2017
Getting your ink abroad
Whether you’re going away for a week or a year, souvenirs are usually one of those things that you do not leave your holiday without
Whether you’re going away for a week or a year, souvenirs are usually one of those things that you do not leave your holiday without. Ranging from the less than enthralling cheesy fridge magnet to the obscure and wonderful item you couldn’t get anywhere else in the world, they brilliant are a way of bringing back a little bit of your trip.
One of the great things about this type of souvenir is that moment when you stumble across it buried in your room months after you get back home, and you suddenly remember what an amazing time you had. But sometimes the memory isn’t enough, and a permanent reminder is needed. Enter the dreaded holiday tattoo.
A tattoo whilst you’re away having the time of your life may seem like the greatest idea to have ever existed, but getting a tattoo abroad can lead to very serious consequences.
Most typical backpacker or 18-30 drinking holiday destinations will have different rules and regulations to the UK. In many places, you can consent to a tattoo even if you are intoxicated. This combined with a 24/7 tattoo parlour equals a very bad mix. So many people wake up the next morning having forgotten all about their little adventures the night before, and are horrified when they look down to see an inked atrocity on their body. Think The Hangover 2. No one wants that.
Aside from the slightly comical but still pretty horrific consequence of a drunken tattoo abroad, there are also serious health risks. Health regulations in some parts of the world are, unfortunately, virtually non-existent. This can sometimes lead to corner cutting to keep costs down and to make the most of out of the drunken Westerners money.
Sometimes basic standards of sanitation not adhered to, such as using sterilised needles, wearing gloves, and keeping to an acceptable level of hygiene. Dirty needles are obviously a big deal, as they can lead to life threatening diseases and infections, including HIV and Hepatitis.
If you’re not careful and don’t keep a decent level of common sense you could end up returning home with a lot more than you bargained for.
However, just because bad things can happen does not mean that they will.
Tattoos are often things that people have been thinking about for a while but have never gotten around to doing. Sometimes a holiday is the perfect excuse – losing a few inhibitions on ‘island’ time can be the perfect catalyst to get the tattoo that you’ve been thinking about for ages.
It can also be a chance to experience something completely unique. For example, a lot of Asian countries are experts in bamboo tattoos, the traditional way of getting tattooed. This technique is pretty rare back in the UK and is a totally different way of experiencing part of a different culture.
I have had both tattoos and piercings whilst travelling, and do not regret either. They remind me of where I was when I had them and hold more of a meaning to me than anything done at home.
To be perfectly honest, I probably should have taken my own advice as there were some questionable places where I've had tattoos and piercings done, but thankfully I was lucky and everything turned out all right. On the other hand, I have met various people who weren’t as lucky as me – even if their tattoo or piercing just ended in a minor infection.
Although, horror stories should be taken with a pinch of salt. As long as you know what you’re doing and don’t take stupid risks, then most of the time everything will be okay.
Most importantly you could end up with a souvenir that you’ll never lose, and no one else will ever have.