I need my hair cut. I’ve put it off for a few months, mostly because it’s hard to schedule an appointment and keep it. I miss the days when I was in China, and I could literally get my hair cut on campus. However, my favorite hair salon was the one right outside my school gate, a mere 10 minute walk from my on-campus apartment that all the foreign teachers lived in.
I remember the first time I went to that hair salon. It was my first hair cut in China. I took one of my Chinese friends, Grace, with me to translate, and we soon found out that I was the first foreigner to get her hair cut there. One interesting thing about getting your hair cut in China is that about 95% of the stylists are male. So, I sit in the chair of one of the guys, and he just stares at me with a confused look on his face. Before I know it, the entire staff of the hair salon are gathered around me, touching curly hair for what I’m sure was the first time. And then they then proceeded to have a conference about what to do with my hair. As they were rapidly speaking Chinese, I had no idea what they were saying until Grace said, “He wants me to tell you something. He said your hair is like the fine silk.” Ok, I’ll take that unique compliment!
I got my hair cut that day with no problem and for only about 3 US dollars! Soon my fellow teacher Heidi and I started going to the hair salon all the time. We’d just pop in after dinner to get our hair straightened for about $2. We became friends with all the stylists there and gave them English names. They didn’t speak a word of English, so it was really good for our Chinese language practice! Also, they liked practicing their English on us. And their hair…oh how I love their hair! Young Chinese guys have really crazy hair styles, and the stylists were the kings of crazy!
I got brave and started trying things other than a simple cut. I had read online that a perm can loosen the curls of people who have really curly hair, so I thought I’d give it a go. It actually turned out pretty well and calmed my hair down a bit. However, the methods cracked me up. I had my hair hooked up to a machine that looked like it was sucking my brain out. It is one of my all-time favorite China pictures. Then they put this trough-type thing around my neck. It was an epic experience.
Soon, I started taking every other foreigner there that was wanting to get a hair cut. Soon this salon became THE foreign hair salon. They should have given me a cut of the profits!
Some people go abroad, especially to a place like China, and aren’t adventurous. Some of my fellow teachers wouldn’t dare to get their hair cut in China. They would wait a whole year until they went home. Come on people! Be a part of the culture you’re in. Participate and enjoy. Learn and make friends while you’re at it. It just might be some of the best memories you have.