The Bamboo Room: Koh Samui, Thailand

The answer to that question for me is:
I’m deathly afraid of needles, so what do you think? Furthermore, I can rarely decide on what I want from the Cheesecake Factory menu, how am I supposed to decide what I want on me permanently for the rest of my life?!
But let’s rewind to the time Dane and I were wandering Fisherman’s Village in Koh Samui Thailand and happened upon an adorable tattoo shop. We could see from the window they were practicing traditional Thai techniques using bamboo.
Before we embarked on our Thailand vacation, I knew two things about Thai tattooing methods:
1. Angelina Jolie got one of tiger claws (and probably others)
2. It supposedly hurt less than traditional tattooing methods.
I couldn’t resist, I walked right up the steps and into The Bamboo Room. What I didn’t know at the time was that I was walking into Keng’s, a multi-award winning, world record breaking UK-Thai tattoo specialist.
Keng himself was there tattooing a girl, who was happy to allow me to take photographs.
What is bamboo tattooing?
This ancient technique involves a needle strapped on to a long length of
bamboo which is then pushed in and out of the skin by hand. It is said
to be slower but less painful and less likely to draw blood than the
modern machine tattoo method.
I also got the chance to meet Keng’s wife, Lauren. The first thing I noticed about her was the absolutely beautiful tattoos she had of her children on her arm. It was as if I was looking at an actual photograph. Of course, Keng did them. Have you ever met someone you felt like you could talk to FOR HOURS? Lauren was that someone for me in Thailand.
She told us all about Keng and his work — a definite proud wife, but so modest you would never know she was married to a Thai celeb. Keng started to learn his craft at the age of 15 when he would practice on pig skin and fruit. Over time, he graduated onto tattooing
soldiers to give them strength and protect them in combat. Keng knew he wanted to be a tattooist, but he knew pursuing it as a
profession would be against his family’s wishes. With such a strong sense of family, Keng had to follow his father’s
plans of becoming a doctor and attended medical school to honor him, but when his
father passed away Keng went onto pursue his dream of bamboo tattooing.
Like I said, I could have stayed in there forever. I don’t think Lauren or Keng would have cared — they were so friendly and eager to answer any and all questions I had!
Do you have a tattoo? What is it?



  • Oh wow! I had his book of artwork on my coffee table but it disappeared one day. This type of tattooing is awesome. I wouldn't mind at all sitting in his chair to get a tattoo. I have plenty of them already so I wouldn't mind the pain at all. This is the best post I have ever seen! Love it!

  • This is so cool!!

  • I do have a couple of small tattoos, got them when I was younger. I could do without one of them, but it's part of me now, so…! So you didn't get one?? ;P

  • Jen

    I have 8 tattoos and really want another! Heck I'll probably end up with a lot more. Lol.

  • Wow, that's awesome! I'm in the same boat as you though…no tattoo for me. No needles and I don't know of anything I want on me forever…

  • I do have more than a couple tattoos, and many of my friends are tattoo artists, so when Chris and I went to Tahiti I knew I wanted to get a traditional tattoo done. We found a place that still does the tapping method, and both got tattoos done. It was pretty awesome! Possibly more painful than the needles, but a really cool experience!

  • Lex

    I have 7 currently and am itching for more. It absolutely would have been an honor to get something from such a master of his craft! In fact, just watching him work would have been amazing. So cool!

  • I only have one tattoo at the moment, but I definitely want more. My husband has six and he also wants more. I think I'll be getting my second one this fall 🙂

  • I have never heard of this but that is so cool. I have a small tattoo of the word "promise" on the inside of my pinkie finger. In two weeks I'll finally get my second, and outline of a plane on my rib cage. Both are small and easily hidden. That was important to me, also important – for it mean something. Like you said, it's permanent and people are bound to ask about it. So when they do I want to make sure I actually have a reason other than "it was pretty" (which is 100% fine to do, just not my style). My pinkie did hurt, and I know my ribs will because both are right on the bone, but hey it's only for a few maybe several minutes or possibly a couple hours right?

  • Wow, very cool!

    I think I'm too scared to get a tattoo.

  • Jen

    I'm too chicken to get one. Plus, I also can't choose something I'd want forever either. John wants another one but he can't decide what he wants.