On my first visit to Pai I had one "must do" on my itinerary but unfortunately, it was something that didn't happen. After meeting my friend Alice during my Yoga training at Vikasa Yoga I was determined to visit her new friend Poh who just so happens to be a very talented tattoo artist. I had already gotten my traditional Sak Yant tattoo in Bangkok but I was looking for something more original for my next one so I figured paying Poh a visit at Monkey Magic tattoo sounded like a good idea. Unfortunately, due to his packed schedule and my stupidly pre-booked flight to Vietnam, I wasn't able to make it happen. After my adventures through Vietnam and Laos though I decided to add a return visit to Northern Thailand at the end of my trip. This may or may not have been heavily influenced by the possibility of getting this tattoo....
I decided to spend a few days relaxing in Pai (in a different way than the first time around *note less alcohol involved*) and found a peaceful bungalow for myself, complete with a pool! Really, all I wanted to do was lounge poolside, work on my tan and eat some good food (not hard to do in Pai). The only down side to my visit was that my persistent stomach issues were not going away, therefore screwing up my appetite. Thankfully the doctor in town sorted me out with some meds (30 min visit at a fair [dirt cheap] price of 260 baht!).
On my third day in Pai it was finally time for me to go see Poh, my excitement was definitely building. Although we had set a date for my visit there was no mention of what time I should come but I figured showing up when they opened made sense. As I walked through the front door I was met by a possibly confused Poh who had just begun eating his lunch (breakfast?), asking me to return in an hour, what's a little bit more waiting? One mango/banana smoothing later I was back at Monkey Magic discussing my tattoo with Poh. He remembered our appointment but was fuzzy on the details (who I was and what I wanted to be done), but after some short explanations he recalled our initial meeting and seemed eager to do the work. Poh had one other quick tattoo to take care of that afternoon so he told me to return at 4 pm, also giving him time to complete the sketch of what I wanted. I was considering taking a late afternoon but back to Chiang Mai but once I realized that was no longer an option I decided to return to my pool for one last session of sun.
When I returned Poh had an amazing sketch completed, something way better than what I had imagined based on the image I'd given him, great detail and soooo much more unique. We did a few more quick edits (erased some branches and added some birds) before it was time to get started. The pain began at 5:30 but in all honesty, the first hour didn't feel too bad, Poh continually asked me how I was doing but said that I seemed to be handling the pain pretty well which he was happy about so that I wasn't cursing his name. We took a break after he had finished outlining the entire thing and although I wanted to wait until the end couldn't help but take a peak, and it was looking awesome!
Back to work and I now understood why some people say tattoos freaking hurt! After having my skin rubbed raw once going back over the same area a second time did not feel too awesome. Anything inching in towards my stomach or lower hip bone started causing me to want to be done with it all, it amazing the difference a few inches can make as far as sensitivity goes. I guess having the base of the tree end on my protruding hip bone wasn't the smartest decision on my part either, but it looked good. Having no one (other than Poh) in the room to complain to I began texting my friend Loudine who was kind enough to be my moral support from thousands of miles away, let's just say a few obscenities may have been used. Amazingly enough just as I was wishing for it to be over Poh announced "We're done!" I could not have been happier to hear those words and also get off the table to have a look at what he produced! Just as I had expected he did an amazing job and I was completely in love with my new tattoo.
If you have any desire to get a tattoo (or even if you don't) I would suggest making a stop at Monkey Magic to check out the great work these guys do. Poh was telling me how people from Korea actually tried to recruit him to go and do work there but he wasn't even tempted by the offer. He has plenty of work in Thailand, enjoys his life there (and who wouldn't, living in Pai!?) and does amazing work. He has pages upon pages of great tattoos to display, including some awesome 'cover up' work where he salvaged some otherwise unsightly tattoos. Now I just need to figure out how I can make a return visit with Loudine so she can get one for herself, and of course I'll probably get another.
High on the tourist track for a reason, home of good food (mostly) happy people, rich history and culture. Thailand as many tourist soon learn is just easy. Easy to visit, easy to get around and even easier to stay.