Got a haircut and a lesson in chinese...

My hair grows pretty quick. It's actually a little annoying. I've got like a 2 week window of ideal styling length, and then it gets a bit shaggy for my liking and I start whining. So after being here for 5 weeks, I realized that I couldn't avoid the inevitable: I WOULD HAVE TO GET MY HAIR CUT IN CHINA.

I thought about doing it myself. I was actually poised with comb and scissors in hand, shaking nervously as I watched my reflection in the bathroom mirror. It was like Russian Roulette, to be honest. But I caved. So I asked some foreigners where they go for haircuts, and a few recommended a barber downtown. They said I'd get my hair washed before and after the cut, and that the barber's English wasn't too bad and he was familiar with American styles. This was all very good to hear, and for 40 kuai, very much worth it. (6.8 kuai = 1 US dollar, btw)

So yesterday I planned to venture downtown (2 kuai each way) and make it happen. But fortuitously, while taking a morning walk in the apartment complex I live in, I spotted a little jianfadian (barbershop!) at the ground level of one of the buildings. Just one barber, and by no means a fancy place, but SO DANG CONVENIENT. And likely, cheap. I returned home, got some work done, and thought my options over. Then, mustering up my courage, I went for it.

When I got there the lady was on the phone but motioned for me to sit down. I felt like a little kid at the dentist. Absurdly nervous about the whole thing. And she seemed to be wondering what the heck I was doing there, too, because she mentioned the oddity of having a foreign customer to whomever was on the line. It felt like an eternity sitting there, staring in that daunting wall mirror.

When she finally got off the phone she asked what kind of style I'd like. I pulled out my ipod and showed her a pic I took of myself when I got here and proceeded to explain (in Mandarin, obviously), that I liked it pretty short on all sides and a bit longer on the front. She nodded, and explained, "Xian yao xifa" (first let's wash your hair). We went over to her sink thingy and as she washed it she began asking what I did for work. I explained that I was a clothing designer for my own company and told her a bit of the story of myself, what I do, and why I was in China. Then she told me about her daughter, and how her English was really good. I'm pretty sure she was trying to hook us up. Americans, believe it or not, are pretty prized finds here in Asia.

Anyhow, once the hair washing was done she took me back to the chair and went to town, a furious blaze of snipping and clipping. Turns out she's been a barber for 24 years, and she was pretty darn good at it. She even gave me a shave! It all took about 15 minutes, and it came out PERFECT. She asked me how the length of everything was and I told her how impressed I was, and she simply said, "I've been cutting hair your whole life!" Nice.

The total cost was 6 kuai. About 80 cents.

posted by Mr. Linty @ 11:13 AM,


At 11:46 AM, Anonymous mchen said...

Where're the before & after shots? :) Glad it all worked out; hope she got a big tip!

At 12:08 PM, Blogger Marvin said...

I am so jealous of you man! China sounds absolutely amazing. Tell me the truth! I just refuse to accept all of this good news. Amazing stuff though. So inexpensive, I'll have to visit.

At 10:22 PM, Blogger Eric Terry said...

mchen, actually you don't tip here in China. If you do, you get very strange looks! Oh, no tax either. EVERYTHING IS SO CHEAP.

Marvin, I definitely recommend it. And you really don't need to know Chinese to get around, though it definitely will help to know a little.

At 12:39 AM, Blogger Coty said...

80 cents for a hair cut. Damn, that is amazing.

At 3:45 AM, Blogger Loren said...

80 cents?! Wow, $1.60 for a whole year of hair cuts would be pretty nice. Yeah, I average about two haircuts a year.

Cool stories Eric!


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