“We want to go to Wat Bang Prah”… This was probably the first thing we asked our host in Bangkok (after the wifi password of course). So here we go in the morning, on the way to the temple with our private hired driver. The weather is extremely hot and humid, as well as our excitement. Nicolas because he’s gonna have his second Sak Yant Tattoo, and me because I’ll have the chance to document it. After an hour driving out of the capital, we arrived in the huge complex, the Wat Bang Prah temple, one of the few places in Thailand where people rush and wait hours to tattoo their body. The different rooms we crossed were filled with Thai calmly waiting their moment. Our driver guided us to the second floor, where they actually change the needles and have a bit of hygiene in regards of cross contamination. We were welcomed by a horde of tiny dogs barking their lungs out, before jumping on the enormous head monk sitting in a corner of the room. We didn’t have to wait long, and after giving the offering to this massive monk, Nicolas is bare chest, calmly breathing and focusing on the hour of pain coming.
Nicolas didn’t choose his first tattoo (the one in the middle), but he was able to complete it with what he wanted, two wings of peaks, each one representing a mantra in Cambodian khmer script. I am not a specialist in Sak Yant, but I do know that after the blessing by the head monk of the temple, it is believed to hold magic power, bring strength, luck and protection against evil. For the tattoo to work, Nicolas has to follow a set of basic rules as “do not steal”, “do not cheat”, “do not lie”… of being a good person (that I’m sure he is anyway).
The place was spiritually heavy, and felt a bit overwhelming. I asked myself at some point if I was in the right place, but being able to shoot the whole process, trying not to disturb the magic going on here, made me feel a bit privileged, and I loved it. After two hours in the temple, we head back to Bangkok, both of us extremely happy about the experience, and even more because this was the beginning of the journey of Les Alchimistes.