Thailand’s Sacred Tattoos – A Secret Tradition Goes Global

My article in this month’s InDepth Magazine on Thailand’s Sacred Tattoos with images by Aroon Thaewchatturat, co-author and photographer of Sacred Skin – Thailand’s Spirit Tattoos, the first English language book to look at Sak Yant. On a sultry Monday morning, Ajarn Neng Onnut’s studio, known locally as a samnak, which sits tucked away in […]

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From the Archives: The real Phuket – Tom Vater reports on the Vegetarian Festival for Fortean Times

Another golden oldie, that old chestnut, the Phuket Vegetarian Festival, which I covered in 2005 for Fortean Times and several other publications. Never mind the flash resorts, sleazy bars, high rise condos and MacHolidays on offer on Thailand’s largest and most overdeveloped tourist island.  Phuket also has culture. Every year, men and women have their […]

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From the Archives: Your Mother Cooks Socks in Hell – Balaji Mandir, India’s Exorcist Temple

This is a travel story from some years back about a visit to a rather peculiar temple. So take a ride to the Temple of the Possessed…. Ashok was a great driver. We are on our way to Balaji Mandir, a temple dedicated to the mighty monkey king Hanuman, who rescued Sita, Ram’s wife, from […]

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From the Archives: Wai Khru Day – The Wat Bang Phra Tattoo Festival in Thailand

Every year in March, thousands of Buddhist devotees gather at a temple an hour west of Bangkok to worship and celebrate one of Thailand’s strangest cults: At Wat Bang Phra, Buddhist monks use long needles to tattoo magic images and prayers on the believers’ skin. The tattoos are believed to give the wearer protection, especially […]

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