It’s 3 am, somewhere in Indonesia. Dewa, a Balinese Bamboo Tattooist just finished my “Cover-Up” Tattoo. The last 4 hours have been a one-of-a-kind experience. For the first time I got inked by Bamboo and as you can imagine I was blown away.
I probably got your attention with this headline, did I? The truth is, I loved the experience, I love the tattoo and I love the Bamboo technique!
I already had three tattoos all made abroad with a gun machine. So there needed to be a new experience!
The recent tattoo I got in Australia was more like a fun-project, therefore I have to admit it was not the best tattoo, but I still liked it (the first days)! (See the full story here). So as my Working Holiday Visa in Australia ended, I headed to Bali with 3 goals: get a tourist visa for Australia, visit Bali AND find a tattoo artist who would cover my wrist with a traditional Asian technique: By Bamboo.
Bamboo tattoos are a traditional Asian technique dating back some 3000 years in which needles are tapped to a bamboo rod and hand “tapped” into the skin. When it comes to this technique in Thailand it started in Buddhist temples where monks would get ink symbolizing protection and faith.
So – I met Dewa in Gili Trawangan (thanks to the recommendation of the tattoo artists who worked with gun machines in Gili T). Dewa was actually tattooing that day a guy, so I could already see his impressive skills. I came back to his studio around 11pm to talk about the drawing and design. I really liked his idea and how he was talking about it, so we decided to go ahead and make things happen. At midnight Dewa started the project with a priest. During the complete session, he showed a great technique.
Does it hurt, you may ask now?
Personally, I found that it didn’t hurt at all. As soon as he started inking my wrist, I felt the difference to a gun machine. I do remember the pain of my previous tattoo on my ribs made in Thailand by a machine: 3 hours of pain, sorry – I mean intense pain! Okay, it was because of the area I chose too 😉 The Bamboo session went really smoothly, though!
Bamboo Tattoo vs Gun Machine?
See – it takes longer to do tattoos by Bamboo because there is no machine. The driving force is, in this case, the hand of the tattooist. 😉
The Bamboo tattoo heals way quicker than the tattoo done by a gun machine. There is way less blood. 12 hours after you got your bamboo tattoo, you already can expose it to the sun and swim (minimum of 15 days with a machine), TOO EASY, RIGHT? I mean we are travelers, we love to swim 🙂 You do need to use coconut oil to keep it hydrated, though! Easy to find when you’re traveling!
Let’s talk about money.
YES, bamboo tattoos are more expensive because you pay for the technique and for the time. It also depends on the artist, the size, and the details of the tattoo you choose. To give you a rough idea mine cost 1 500 000 Rupiah (about 85 EUR or $140 AUD) and it was 4 hours of real work!
SAFETY FIRST! Before getting your own tattoo, make sure the tattoo artist is using sterile material like ink, medical gloves, new needles and so on.
This experience was truly unique. I’m really happy with the final result and I can’t wait to do it again! Find Dewa on Facebook here 🙂
What about you? Have you ever gotten a tattoo while traveling? What do you think about bamboo tattoos? Share your experience with us! Lots of love, Amandine.
If you want to connect to share more TIPS or travel stories with us drop us a message and we’ll be in touch asap.
Amandine & Adrian @whynotabroad