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Tattoos and Travel

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Tattoos and Travel

I do not usually walk around in public in short sleeve shirts. To do so would bring entire cities to a halt in some parts of the world. I remember one time in Calcutta when I left my hotel in a sleeveless shirt and became an attraction for a crowd of hundreds of Indians. This was the last time that I ever did this. I do not often try to hide my tattoos, but I do not show them off either.
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Wade from Vagabond Journey.com
in Sanliurfa, Turkey- April 9, 2009
Travelogue Travel Photos –Travel Guide
Click on map to view route of travel.

Tattooing is perceived differently in different places. In the West, people seem to think that I am some kind of criminal or perhaps a party animal – I am neither. In the East, I become a sort of foreign oddity. The tattoos attract attention, and in Asia this attention is 90% benevolent inquisitiveness. People are drawn to the tattoos that start on my fingers and hands and work their way up my arms and over my body, and I try to use them as a device to initiate conversation and act as a catalyst to get to know the people whose country I am traveling through.

It works.

People often seem to be just as interested in me as I am of them. We look each other over and ask each other questions in a mutual exchange of inquiry. This was not the intention behind me tattooing myself, but it has become a good side effect.


This man has traditional Muslim tattoos over his hands, lower arms, temples, and a dot on the end of his nose. We showed each other our tattoos, as they served as a catalyst for our conversation.


Man with traditional Muslim tattoos on hands, lower arms, and face.

Wade Vagabond Journey’s tattoos
Vagabond Journey Tattoos

Vagabond Journey Tattoo photos page two
Vagabond Journey Tattoo photos page three

Vagabond Journey Tattoo photos page four

Tattoos and Travel

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Filed under: Eastern Europe, Europe, Middle East, Turkey

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 76 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3053 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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Wade Shepard is currently in: Cincinnati, Ohio, USAMap