Yesterday I took a Khmer friend to the Khmer tattoo parlour on BKK near Toul Sleng. Many people have asked about getting work done in Phnom Penh recently so I can report the following;
The tattooist is a young lad of about 22 or so. When I walked in earlier in the day on a reconnaissance mission he was doing a very large tribal design on a Khmer guy. It looked a bit rough. The gun used looked like an electric pen and was not a modern tattoo gun . The ink was just splashed in what looked like a bed pan and he was wearing a rubber glove. There were a few photocopied books on the coffee table with the usual tribal designs etc and a few Yakuza style magazines. He has a small photographic portfolio with nothing special in it.
So I arrived at the “parlour” with my friend and her 3 kids ( dad asleep the lazy sod ) and we sat down and she told him what she wanted done. “I always miss the ones I love ” done in Khmer writing. I told him I wanted him to do a “draft” first so we could see the size, placement etc etc so we were taken upstairs to the mezzanine bedroom which had a kind of tattooist’s bed in it and not much else. He proceeded to stencil the tattoo on the nape of her neck with a blue biro pen and once given the thumbs up on design, I checked the needle came out of a sterile packet and that he had a glove on and he then hoped into into it and was done in 20-30 mins. My friend experienced a little bit of pain but was otherwise pretty brave.The result wasn’t too bad actually. It was a pretty easy tattoo by world standards but the telling will be in the healing.
– The gun was not a proper gun
– The environment was less than sterile.
– Using a PEN to do the outline and then tattooing straight over the top of the ink? Where has the pen been ?
– The swabs during the process were just cotton wool. Solution was only applied at the end during a general clean up.
– Absolutely no hint of post-dressing or provision of antiseptic cream ( I had to take her back to my apartment and dress it myself and give her a tube of cream etc ! )
– Absolutely no advice on care
– Ummm….the price ? $25
There is no fucking way on god’s earth I would get this guy to do a tattoo on my god-like Adonis body. I was not there to advise my friend, merely to hold her hand and I at least made sure the design was right and basic procedures were followed. She had made her mind up but I will still probably feel guilty I didn’t stop her.
So there you go. My advice – Bangkok all the way. There you have some of the best in the world so why take the risk here !