HOW TO GET A BAD HAIRCUT WHEN TRAVELING

September 22nd, 2013, by Steven in Travel, Travel Tips, Uncategorized.

Alongside a visit to a foreign doctor, getting a foreign haircut is one of the most daunting tasks a traveler must overcome. Many will let their hair grow out simply to avoid this confusing, and potentially very disappointing, challenge. But, having your hair cut is as urgent as appendicitis. Sometimes you gotta get rid of it, hippie.

To get a good haircut, you will need a photo, a smile and the ability to give the stylist confidence. To get a bad haircut, you need only say these three words:

“I am traveling.”

or…

“Viajo aquí.”

“Tôi đang đi du lịch”

“我在旅行.”

“저는 여행중 입니다.”

…etc.

I consistently lie to two groups of people: tailors and hairdressers. To the tailor: “I live here.” To the hairdresser: “I just moved here.

A smart tailor knows that local customers will result in good or bad word-of-mouth. A smart hairdresser knows that someone new in town will be looking for a place to regularly get a haircut.

My first haircut abroad was in Belgium, in a little alley about three blocks away from Brussels’s Grand Palace square. It was 2004 and I was on a side trip from Amsterdam, where I was “studying”. The shop was busy, with a 45-minute wait. When my time came, I sat down nervously. The busy / friendly, hairdresser spoke good English, as most Belgians do. I communicated what I wanted and we got started. During the small talk, he asked if I was studying in Brussels. “No”, I said, “I am just here for the weekend.” And so began an abbreviated, half-assed haircut. His eyes were scanning the regulars in the shop, waiting impatiently to get me out  and thin the herd. The small talk ceased and before I knew it he was shaking a meagre amount of my clipped hair from the apron and I was out the door, 18€ poorer.

A similar situation happened in 2011 when I was visiting San Francisco for a wedding. I walked into a little shop in the Castro that had received good reviews on Yelp. Again, there was a wait and most of the familiar customers were chatting each other up. It was a bit like being in a local bar, where everybody knows your name. Upon my turn in the spinny leather chair, I confessed that I lived in Asia and was just in town for a wedding. Realizing this, he gave me about half the time and effort of the local regulars, again shaking an incomplete amount of my fur from the apron and parting me with “that ought to do for the wedding”. Not quite; and now I have to fix this in Seoul, with a hairdresser who speaks little English, yet will manage to clean up your mess, possibly because she thinks I am a new foreign correspondent for the BBC, largely because I told her I was the BBC’s new foreign correspondent in South Korea.

Since the San Francisco incident, I have learned to always tell any hairdresser in any city that I have just moved to: (his/her city). I have just accepted a job. My wife lives across the street. I am studying nearby. Any tactful hairdresser knows that a returning local will result in more money in their register. For me, I get a good haircut. For them, the false presumption that they’ll see me again. We part with a friendly “see you” and everyone wins. Forgive me.

Ready to lie at Mano Mano salon in Saigon, Vietnam

Ready to lie at Mano Mano salon in Saigon, Vietnam

 

Steven (84 Posts)

Steven is a roaming traveler, writer and urban planner based out of Asia. Connect with Steven on Steven Muzik on Google+!








Recent Articles

25 THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE TRAVELING IN THAILAND

Thailand, with over 26 million foreign entries in 2016, can be a very touristic place to visit. By some accounts, 20% of the Thai...

5 of SAIGON’S BEST HIDDEN COCKTAIL BARS

Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) is a place of surprises, much of them elusive to first-time visitors with just a few days on the...

The 5 Best Night Markets in Taipei

Taipei is inarguably one of the top street food cities in the world. Taiwan is known as the land of snacks: they have literally...

8 of the Best Cafes in Hanoi

The big cities in Vietnam have a cafe culture that is virtually unknown to the rest of the world. Don’t expect a Chemex of...

How to Order Coffee in Vietnam Like a Local

Vietnam is a country that runs on coffee. There is a cafe on just about every block in Saigon and Hanoi and they’re packed...

10 THINGS I CAN’T TRAVEL WITHOUT

Recently I’ve taken a four-month break off of travel to settle into a comfortable life in a quiet town. It’s been nice, mostly.

I do...

LIVE LIKE A LOCAL: RENT A SHORT-TERM APARTMENT WHILE TRAVELING

If you want to experience the true life of a place, experience it like a local: get an apartment in a true neighborhood. Wake...

SIEM REAP’S 10 BEST BARS: CLASSY, HIDDEN DIVES JUST OUTSIDE OF ANGKOR

Every year I find myself in Siem Reap, Cambodia for a week. It’s inevitable, and always enjoyable.

Angkor Wat is, along with Bagan in Myanmar,...

‘A STOP AT WILLOUGHBY’: THE TWILIGHT ZONE EPISODE THAT EXPLORES OUR NEED TO TRAVEL

“a place around the bend where he could jump off”

Created during a time (1959-1964) when American television seemed eerily clean and domestic, The Twilight...

SURVIVING BORACAY ALONE

In March of 2012, I was nearly finished with a 3-week journey moving west through the Visayas region of The Philippines. Visayas is famous...

NEVADA’S ROUTE 50: AMERICA’S LONELIEST ROAD

Highway 50 is one of those generous, eternal American roads that goes from coast to coast (nearly). It begins in Sacramento, California and ends...