So here’s a picture of me yesterday evening, trying to wile away the spare hours in the afternoon. Notice the ridiculous mop of curls adorning my face and head.
I will admit I was incredibly nervous going to get my hair cut over here, as sometimes the language barrier is larger than one would expect in a country where kids spend 5+ hours a day learning English. In fact, just this morning I had trouble ordering a coffee because I don’t have any Korean yet. This a problem we face as waygooks who haven’t taken the time to learn the language of our host country, however, and I’ve got to admit that fact.
But the curls were a serious problem and HAD to go. Perhaps most of all because many classes told me I had “the ugly hair” this week. This was a major step down from two weeks previous when I was “Emmet-perm-teacher”, a less offensive title methinks.
Therefore, this morning I took it upon myself to visit a hair salon (barbers over here are dying out and those that are still there are on life support). Luckily for me, I saw a post on Facebook about an English-speaking salon near my house and decided to give it a look.
After a quick shower and breakfast, I ran out the door to find Hwamiju International Hair which, it turned out, was only 3 minutes walk from my front door.
When I walked in the door of the salon I was quickly ushered into a seat to wait for god knows what. I know I was told why I was waiting, but once again my appalling lack of communication skills left me alone and confused. All I could think as I looked around the rather swanky salon was how much I was gonna be charged and how I was too proud to back out now.
Luckily, nothing crazy was about to happen. I was, in fact, waiting for Douglas, the trainee who speaks fluent English having been raised in Hawaii for 10 years.
I’m sure my relief was almost palpable as I peeled myself off the leather couch and followed him to the chair.
I took my seat in what is best described as a throne of hairdressing. Being used to ordinary barbershop chairs, this magnificent pale leather chair was something I thought existed in movies about gutsy hookers who meet loaded sugar daddies and move into a world beyond their wildest dreams.
However, after I sat down my advocate Douglas disappeared and I began sweating again. “What if he doesn’t come back and I end up with a quiff?” I thought in fear “My head’s too square to pull that off”. But, it turned out he had gone to get my gown to cover my clothes, and was truly only gone for about 45 seconds.
Once he returned, Douglas asked me exactly what I wanted done with my hair and also asked about how it normally sits and so on, so that he could tell the “Stylist” what to do with the mass of copper wire atop my head.
Oh God, he wants to give me a stylist, I just want someone with a pair of scissors. I’m definitely leaving here with a quiff.
As usual though, my fears were unfounded and the stylist turned out to be the talented head stylist and, in my ill-informed opinion, a really good hairdresser. This being based entirely on her speed and the fact that I don’t look like a twit now. Well, no more than I usually would at least.
Overall, I was thoroughly relieved that the process was so quick and easy, given that I have seen how haircuts have turned into a Bic razor-fest for other foreigners. I even had my hair washed after cutting to stop the itching, and to make it easier for them to put gel in to ‘finish off’ the look.
I was very impressed, especially since it was only €2 more expensive than back home. Sometimes Korea, you really surprise me!
In the words of Travis: “Two very enthusiastic thumbs up”.