Sunday, 5 July 2009

Trip to Hat Yai and Songkhla

3rd of July we loaded our entourage into our pick-up truck and headed for Hat Yai and Songkhla. Eventually the goal was to have me and Jira take a traditional tattoo by a Holy man (like a Brahmin). We reached Songkhla at noon and we enjoyed Samila beach and the Mermaid and Cat statues there. The beach peddlers were not as active and not as frequent as in Pattaya or Phuket beaches which I found pleasant. I bought the kids a set of spades and buckets and showed them how to build sand castles. The grown up Thais sitting in the shade probably thought I was another crazy farang playing in the sunshine, the kids were not of same opinion.

Later on we stopped and went up to Tangkuan Hill to enjoy the view and pay respect for the Temple up there. At thebottom of the hill there was a lot of monkeys and they had been made a playground over there. Monkeys alleviated the heat of the sun by jumping into a pool specially for them only.

In the afternoon we headed for Hat Yai to do some shopping and to find lodging. Eventually we booked into Siam Center hotel close to all mall’s and shopping streets. After a short shopping spree we headed for dinner to Thalee Thai seafood restaurant that served a delicious meal.

Next morning 4th July we packed into the pickup truck and heade for the outskirts of Songkhla to Singhaburi where the Holy Man resided. We met our guide and he drove ahead to the “Ajarn’s” compound following narrow streets into the Amphoe passing temples and whatnot. We learned that he only does men, even no women was allowed into the parlour so they had to wait outside. I ventured inside the parlour and saw a handful of youngsters puffing on cigarettes trying to look tough. At the end of the parlour sat the Ajarn in a white dress and beside him was 2 other guys busy tattooing 2 other clients. I suppose they were his disciples. I wai’ed the Ajarn and the shrine beside him. Then I was invited to choose a picture, it was easy for me as me and Jira had decided on a “Ha theuw” (5 rows). Once chosen I was told to sit down and wait for my turn.

I was shown a home made video of young guys going into trance in the middle of the night around a huge bonfire. They were letting the spirit of the Tiger come into their body and while this was happening they let out very Tiger-ish sounds and grunts. After that they jumped into the bonfire kicking and throwing around burning sticks. Some guys got odd ways to spend their free time…

After awhile next in the program was to donate the price of tattoo (500THB) and read a poster asking for the good fortunes involved with this tattoo. Unfortunately I don’t read Thai so our guide he read for me and I repeated after him. Then I was asked to sit legs akimbo in front of the Ajarn, breath in deeply and slowly, close my eyes and clasp my hands in front of me. I suppose the idea was to get into a meditative state. Kind of difficult when the Ajarn started hacking into my back…

I sat like that for some time and after awhile I think my legs hurt more than my back as they were getting numb, very numb. That’s also one way to get your attention elsewhere. I can’t say how long it took but I just had to extend my legs in front of me, meditation or not the legs had to get some blood. The tattoo was not that bad, only when he got over some sensitive nerve endings at my spine I felt like crawling into the floor but I persisted stoically as the gaggle fo teenagers were gawking at me and for sure betting whether I would stand it or not. For awhile I was watching another boy being tattooed by one of the disciples, could not be more than 15yrs old. He sat in the same position as I and he was huffing and puffing from pain and leaning forward and forward until his forehead touched the floor. I think he had the same idea of crawling under the floor.

Then all of a sudden the Ajarn told me he was finished. I had to prostrate in front of the Ajarn and he recited some prayer in Pali “validating” the tattoo’s power. After that I sat and made some chit-chat with the Ajarn and he gave me some instructions of what I could not eat or do, otherwise I would loose the power within. The Ajarn invited me to come back after one year to do another tattoo, who knows, maybe I will…

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