I’ll start this with the word souvenir, a noun that is defined as a thing that is kept as a reminder of a person, place, or event.
When we travel, we always buy souvenirs to bring home with us to serve as a reminder of a place that we have been to. Souvenirs can be a lot of things; Pastries from your favorite local pastry shop, a t-shirt that says I love SG, a bracelet from a crystal shop, sneakers that are way cheaper in HK than from your hometown, a shot glass or a mug with the city’s name on it or the always fun and interesting fridge magnets. I’ve bought them all, took them home with me, some of them are still with me (somewhere in my bedroom), some of them like the sneakers (I don’t use anymore) and some I’ve lost already. But with my recent trip to Taiwan, I think I’ve found the best souvenir that I have ever acquired to take home with me. And the greatest thing about it is that it would stay with me till I’m old and gray.
My friends and I decided that we’d get a tattoo when we get to Taipei and so we did (from the best tattoo artists in town) and it was the best decision we made.
Coleen: 6 tattoos
Nigel: 2 tattoos
Kevin: 3 tattoos
Bianca: 15 tattoos
Me: 3 tattoos
I put a tattoo count on my friends and I just to let you know that we have been through a couple of tattoo experiences with various tattoo artists in the past and that the experience of getting a tattoo in Taipei tops it all.
We found our tattoo shop through Google. We looked for the shops that had the highest rating and Nigel saw that Rock Ink tattoo shop was rated at 4.8 so we decided to go for it.
The artists, Anna and Jesse were the ones in the shop when we arrived around 3pm in the afternoon. They were accommodating and easy to talk to. They asked to see the tattoo design we wanted to get and then they called their master so he can quote the prices. Master Rango came by the shop to meet us, looked at our designs and gave us a price. When all was set, we set an appointment for 10pm that night as we were running late for the Coldplay concert.
After the concert, we were stuck at the venue and MRT line for about an hour and a half as it was raining pretty hard and every single one of the concert viewers had only one train to ride.
Yes, we were able to make it out alive: all of us soaking wet but still pretty happy. We messaged the tattoo artists when we got inside the train station telling them we were running late and wouldn’t make it until around 11pm. They replied to say it was okay, we didn’t need to rush and that they’d wait for us.
Coleen and Nigel were able to get to the tattoo shop earlier than Kevin and I. (Side story: We lost Coleen and Nigel at some point while exiting the concert grounds. And so they were able to catch the train earlier than us.) And by the time Kevin and I arrived, Coleen was finished and Nigel just started getting his.
Master Rango was Coleen and Nigel’s artist. He’s been a tattoo artist for 10 years and also happens to be a Kung Fu master. He is an excellent tattoo artist, his work on my sister Coleen, Nigel and Bianca is a work of art. After finishing Coleen and Nigel’s tattoo, he taught Nigel and Kevin some quick Kung Fu moves. He’s the nicest guy I’ve ever met, just so cool and calm.
My artist was Anna; she only started about 2 months in the tattoo shop. She’s an Art major back in UK and she tells me she started to work as a tattoo artist back in Japan and then travelled to Taipei and loved the people and the culture and decided to stay.
Anna was amazing; so calm and focused while working and she would talk to you in a very casual manner like we were just chatting over tea. Her hand was so light that I barely felt any pain. She finished my tattoo in less done an hour.
While getting my tattoo done, she told me stories on how the Master would teach them Kung Fu lessons at the shop when they had free time at the shop.
Jesse was Kevin’s artist. He was a pretty chill guy. And as Kevin put it: he was very gentle with fast hands and was good at straight lines but better at shading.
We were supposed to have drinks around 12am for Bianca’s birthday celebration and as we were supposed to get our tattoos done at 10pm. But obviously, there was a lot of delay so we just asked Bianca to head to the tattoo shop. Around 1 am, our friends Bianca and Keich arrived at the shop.
As a surprise and unplanned birthday gift, we asked Master Rango to give Bianca a tattoo. She was so excited and then of course came up with the best tattoo idea ever.
She wanted Chinese letters on her butt cheek. And to translate the letters in English, it said, “ Rice is life”.
We were at the shop till around 3:30-4am. Some of the happenings were: Bianca walking around with her butt cheek out because she was making sure of the placement. Keich taking photos and being supportive with all our tattoos, Master Rango teaching Kung Fu moves, Nigel walking around in hotel slippers (All our shoes were drenched from rain and mud), Coleen taking Polaroid shots.
It was the best after party I’ve ever been to while getting amazing artwork done on our skin. The best part was the tattoo artists treated us like we were their long time friends. The energy in the shop while getting tattoos was all about lightness and fun: positivity and happiness all around us.
Imagine it’s your first time to come to this country where you don’t know anyone. Get into a tattoo shop hoping the rating on Google maps were legit. Get the tattoos done, and then see that the tattoos on your skin looks beyond what you imagined it would be, pay for a really good price (not even that expensive for the quality you were able to get), having all your friends at the shop till late in the morning and then even getting treated like old friends by the foreign tattoo artists.
What more could I ask for?
I was as happy as I can be stepping out of their shop with my laughing and equally ecstatic friends, bringing with us the newest addition to our collection: the tattoos. Our customised souvenirs to carry back home with us and serve as a beautiful reminder of that night, of our unforgettable trip to Taipei.
While I’m writing this, I am already planning our next trip to this amazing country (in my head); My friends and I already agreed that we need to get more tattoos done from Rock Ink tattoo shop and taste more of the country’s milk teas, street food and dim sum. Which also reminds me of my next mission: to be on a look out for promo tickets from MNL-TAIPEI.
I read an interview of the tattoo artist bang bang from New York, one of my favorite tattoo artists that I see on Instagram. In his interview he says this: “The tattoo you get isn’t just about what you’re getting, it’s also about the experience you have while getting it done.” And I couldn’t agree more. It wasn’t just how good our tattoos were. It was the whole experience that made it both incredible and memorable.
And so, I’ll end this with the word experience, which is defined as an event, or occurrence that leaves an impression on someone.
I was able to take home with me a souvenir and attached to it was an experience that has truly left an impression on my life and something that would last a lifetime.
So here’s to you and me, may we get more experiences out of life, may we travel far and be ready to get out of our comfort zone to not only exist but to truly live and experience light and love from all the different corners of the world.
ROCKINK TATTOO SHOP
Address: 106, Taiwan, Taipei City, Da’an District, 忠孝東路四段216巷33弄17號
How to get to Rock Ink Tattoo shop from our hotel:
Our hotel, Taipei hotel b7 journey was located in Zhongzheng district and Rock Ink Tattoo shop was located in Da’an district.
We walked to Taipei main station rode the MRT line and exited at Zhongxiao Fuxing.
Side note: If you plan to grab some food before your tattoo appointment, may I suggest that you head to Din Tai Fung and get some dim sum, beef noodles and then throw in a couple of pork and sweet buns. Also, you must know that in front of Din Tai Fung, they have a food stall selling green tea pancakes. ❤
Which leads us to why my friends and I exited at Zhongxiao Fuxing because for the now obvious reason: We had to eat at Din Tai Fung located in Pacific Sogo Fuxing Branch (B2, No. 300, Sec. 3, Zhongxiao E. Rd.)
The trip was pretty easy and fast. If you get confused just look on Google maps and if you don’t have a pocket Wi-Fi to carry with you, just map it out before you leave the hotel. Also, take screenshots of the address and name of the place if you’re planning to take a cab to be able to show the driver where you want to go.
After our late lunch in Din Tai Fung (at Pacific Sogo Fuxing branch), Rock Ink tattoo shop was just a 5-minute cab ride away; we took the cab because we were in a hurry.
Here are some photos of the trip going to Rock Ink Tattoo shop:
Exiting Zhongxiao Fuxing
The outside of the Pacific Sogo Fuxing branch
Coleen in front of the Pacific Sogo Fuxing branch
Din Tai Fung at Fuxing Store
B2, No. 300, Sec. 3, Zhongxiao E. Rd., Taipei City
(Fuxing SOGO Department Store)
AT Din Tai Fung
My sister Coleen and her boyfriend Nigel outside Rockink tattoo shop
Here are the photos of our tattoo: