The controversy over “tattoo tourism”

The controversy over “tattoo tourism”

Thailand’s tourist industry has added a new and lucrative segment but not everyone is happy.

Sura ‘Nicky’ Tirakol, former rapper and male model, shows off his freshly inked tattoo on his bicep. PORNPROM SATRABHAYA

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The controversy over “tattoo tourism”

Thailand’s tourist industry has added a new, lucrative and somewhat controversial segment known as ''tattoo tourism''.

Tourists from around the world are taking time out to visit Thai tattoo artists and leaving with elaborate tattoos just about anywhere and everywhere on their bodies

Some people say the fad was started by Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie.  She has twice visited Thailand to obtain tattoos from a master tattoo artist, including an enormous tattoo of a tiger which she wears on her lower back, just above her backside.

The controversy stems from the fact that many of the tourists are choosing tattoos with sacred religious themes like images of Buddha and Ganesh. This might be acceptable if the images were tattooed only on the upper part of the body, but that is not the case. One popular spot among foreign tourists is the ankle.

This has upset Culture Minister Nipit Intarasombat who last week said he asked the Office of the National Culture Commission to issue guidelines banning tattoo artists from using images sacred to Buddhism or any other religion in their patterns.

This created an uproar among tattoo artists and enthusiasts and the Culture Minister appears to have backed off a bit.

Thon, a tattoo artist of 14 years whose Y2J parlour lies on Patpong 2 Road, believes a ban on religious imagery would be wrong.

While Thon agrees that religious imagery shouldn't be tattooed below the waist, he doesn't think the government should have any say in what ultimately is a personal decision.

Tattoos of a sacred Buddha image and Ganesh.

''People have to endure great pain, and pay a lot of money for tattoos that will be on their bodies for the rest of their lives. Do you think they do it just for fun or fashion?”

Adapted from a story in the Sunday Bangkok Post by Ezra Kyrill Erker. For many more opinions from tattoo artists and their customers, you can find the full story here:

tattoo – a permanent image, pattern or word on the skin which is created by using needles to put colours under the skin รอยสัก
biceps – the main muscle at the front of the top part of the arm กล้ามเนื้อด้านหน้าของแขนส่วนบน
controversy – a disagreement, especially about a public policy or a moral issue that a lot of people have strong feelings about ความขัดแย้ง
tattoo – a permanent image, pattern or word on the skin which is created by using needles to put colours under the skin รอยสัก
lucrative – earning a lot of money ที่มีกำไรงาม
segment – a part of somethign ส่วน, ภาค (เศรษฐกิจ)
elaborate – containing a lot of careful detail or many detailed parts ที่ประณีต, ซับซ้อน,ละเอียด,ที่บรรจง
fad – something that is popular or fashionable only for a short time กระแสนิยม แฟชั่นสมัยนิยม
obtain – to get something that you want or need, especially by going through a process that is difficult ได้มา, ได้รับ
master – a man who is very good at something ปรมาจารย์
enormous – extremely large มหาศาล
stem from – to be caused by เกิดจาก
sacred – considered to be holy ศักดิ์สิทธิ์
theme – the main subject of something ใจความสำคัญ, ประเด็นหลัก
image – a photograph, painting, or other work of art that represents a person or thing รูปภาพ
ankle – the part at the bottom of your leg where your foot joins your leg ข้อเท้า
upset – to cause to be very worried, angry or sad about something  ทำให้หงุดหงิด
issue – to official announce ออกประกาศ
guidelines – official instructions or advice about how something is to be done สิ่งที่ช่วยแนะแนวทางให้ปฏิบัติ
ban – to officially say that someone is not allowed to do something   ห้ามอย่างเป็นทางการ
pattern – a regular arrangement of lines, shapes, colours, etc. as a design on material, carpets, etc ลวดลาย
uproar – angry public criticism of something ความเอะอะ, ความวุ่นวาย
enthusiast – a person who is very interested in something and spends a lot of time doing it คนที่กระตือรือร้น
back off – to stop or become less threatening or annoying somebody ถอย
parlour a shop/store that provides particular goods or services ร้านค้า (เช่น ร้านเสริมสวย)
waist – the middle part of the body that is narrower than the parts above and below   เอว
ultimately – finally, after a series of things have happened ท้ายที่สุด, ตอนสุดท้าย, ในที่สุด
endure – to suffer something difficult or unpleasant in a patient way over a long period of time อดทนเพื่อให้ผ่านเวลาหรือเหตุการณ์ที่เลวร้าย

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