A haircut in Thailand
A hairy experience
In between contracts at international schools, I decided to spend a few months working in Thailand, teaching in a Thai High School. It was the first time for a while that I lived like a local and not like an expat. I did not get expat housing, but lived in a Thai house in a Thai Soi (lane). I got paid a slightly higher than local Thai salary. Enough to get by on if you lived like the locals, but no luxuries.
The weather was hot. Stinking hot and Thai houses do not have air conditioners. Rather, you have to sit surrounded by electric fans. I thought having shorter hair would be a lot cooler, so I decided to be brave and try a local hairdresser, not far from our house. Siobhan, my youngest daughter, went with me to watch. We waited for about an hour while the hairdresser completed a pedicure and manicure on another customer. Just when I thought it was going to be my turn, she started doing a manicure on someone else. She gave me a stack of books with hairstyles to choose from. I flicked through the pages of Japanese styles, and saw nothing remotely like I wanted. I am definitely not the cutey cutey Japanese hairstyle type. Somehow, I don't think that looking like an Anime character from a Japanese comic book would suit me.
Mosquitoes were coming in squadrons through the open door, and all decided to feast on farang (foreigner) flesh. They avoided Siobhan like she had the plague, and went for my bare legs. My legs are already covered in bites and scabs and I thought I'd be leaving Thailand physically scarred for life. So, I sat there, waiting, scratching and hitting my legs until it was my turn to receive the hairdresser's attention. The first thing that struck me, was that she could speak a little bit of English. Her parents had moved to Switzerland 20 years ago to work, and I think they came to visit from time to time.
The second thing, was that she was the first hairdresser I'd ever encountered, who did not wet or dampen the hair before commencing to cut it. No spray of a fine mist of water, nothing. She just combed my hair, stuck in some brightly coloured pegs and started to cut. When I was brave enough to open my eyes and watch what she was doing, I saw that she had the biggest collection of different kinds of pairs of scissors that I'd ever seen. She would use one pair and do a few cuts, then exchange it for another pair, and so on. Then, she picked up a cutthroat razor, no electric shaver for her, and trimmed my neck. I was rather nervous when I watched her put a new blade in as it looked very sharp. Anyway, the only blood was from the mosquito bites I'd scratched on my legs. I looked in the mirror and it looked like one of the better haircuts I'd ever had.
As my hair had never been wet
throughout the whole procedure, imagine my surprise when she picked up
a large blowdryer and plugged it in. I soon realised that the
blowdryer was not to be used on my hair, the hair still on my head that
is! She carefully blew away all my pieces of hair off the towel around
my shoulders, onto the floor. And, for that hour and a half's
entertainment, I only paid $1! Thailand really is cheap! Who wants to live like an expat and pay expat prices!