Rumor has it
Rumour had it that getting your haircut in China was this huge ordeal, only to be undertaken by those in the most desperate and dire of circumstances. People had horror stories of going to the hairdresser and coming back with a bob instead of the luscious long locks that had asked for. Or else a hairstyle reminiscent of the 80’s, no backcombing needed.
With these rumours having been firmly planted, I was very reluctant to go for a haircut. I imagined several horrific scenarios that might happen, and it isn’t as if you could go and buy a wig here, or try to get it re-done (imagine reliving the original nightmare, but magnified?). This meant that I would have to go prepared.
I thought about how I wanted my hair to look, what was it that needed to be done, and I came up with a huge list. It needed tidying up, trimming, getting rid of split ends, and basically everything. So I hit the internet, and various different websites with pictures of hairstyles. I searched for famous people to look at their hair. I compared their length to mine, not wanting to risk taking a photo of someone with longer hair than me, in case they thought I wanted extensions, or someone with significantly shorter hair in case they thought that I wanted a lot cut off. It took, what seemed like forever to be able to find a picture of about the right length, the right style, and the right colour, (I didn’t want it to look like I wanted my hair dyed either).
Having found the picture, I asked around for which hairdressers people could recommend. The Teaching Assistants came in very handy, they really are the best people to talk to about anything, as they know everything! I also asked around for price, time, distance, any information I could garner. I managed to find a hairdresser’s, have everything I wanted done with my hair translated into Chinese – characters and pinyin, and took along with me, my trusted print out of the picture.
Facing The Music
With everything prepared, all there was left for me to do, was to go. That took more courage than anything. Some of the rumours were really horrific. I decided to go without telling anyone, and on a spur of the moment after work one night. With not much thinking beforehand, just going for it, I set off.
I entered the premises, and was pleasantly surprised. It didn’t look like a rusty, worn down shack, but was very modern and clean. One of the rumours dispelled. The hairdressers were friendly, and seemed to understand exactly what I wanted, and the price was so reasonable, another rumour gone.However all the hairdressers in China seem to be male, as was the case here. It seems to be the profession to be in.
I was whisked away upstairs to get my hair washed, and my head massaged, (men can give good head massages), then my hair was placed in a clean towel, (rumour three). I was escorted downstairs and given a nice cup of coffee, and placed in a chair in front of the mirror. There were no dramas. Everyone said hello and seemed so friendly.
The hairdresser came along, and with his very limited English introduced himself to me, and pointed to the picture. I smiled weakly, nodded my head and closed my eyes. I didn’t want to see what might happen. I had already surrendered myself to the inevitable.
There was no need to close my eyes at all. When I opened them, the hairdressers were laughing at what I can only describe as my foolishness. My hairstyle was exactly like the picture, minus changing the side my hair was parted on. It was amazing. They blow dried my hair, straightened it, and styled it. I felt like I should have gone out for the evening to show of my new hair, rather than just the 3 minute walk to my apartment block.
The end result was perfect, immaculate almost, and the service as a whole was impeccable. I don’t think I could get what I had done back at home for less than £100, but here in China, it cost me the equivalent of £1.80. Crazy huh?
Since then I have been back to the same hairdressers, I feel I can trust them, and have a rapport with them, and have had two other treatments of my hair. I decided to permanently straighten my hair, the humidity was not kind to it, nor all the time it took to try to style my hair, and again I felt like royalty. My hair was washed, my head massaged, coffee provided, and water, and unlimited entertainment. I felt so relaxed, and really enjoy my visits to the hair dressers.
I would really like to say, don’t listen to all the rumours. Yes there is a language barrier, so take a photo, and be prepared to say, or have written down what it is what you want. If you go in there with no idea, and under prepared, then the end result really is your own doing. There was no sleazy behaviour either, but a very friendly, welcoming environment. And anyway, what are rumours? Nothing but hearsay.
Read more articles on living and teaching English in China here.
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