Having short hair is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, it takes me all of five minutes to wash it, dry it and style it (if I'm in a rush that is – takes me slightly longer than that on a school day when I haven't woken up properly and I'm banging round my room trying to find my hairdryer...), but on the downside, that also means that it needs cut fairly frequently.
The last time I got my hair cut was the day before I left for China. And although I did my best to ignore the dark roots that were starting to creep in, and the fact that instead of sticking out in all directions when I sprayed it, my hair hung limply down and refused to be coaxed into any kind of style, in the end I had to admit it to myself – I was going to have to have a Chinese haircut.
I don't know why I was so nervous – I think I was just scared in case I walked into the hairdressers, mimed getting a haircut, and ended up having it all shaved off and the stubble dyed pink or something (because trust me, with my luck, something like that is perfectly possible). But armed with my trusty Mandarin phrasebook and a photo of the hair style I wanted, I decided just to go for it.
I went to a new hairdressers that had literally only been open a few days – when we first arrived in China, I remember seeing the blank shop and a few days later, it had been transformed into a shiny, glittery hairdressers. I was slightly put off by the fact that there are always two or three members of staff hanging round the door waiting to jump up and eagerly usher people inside, but I simply took out my phrasebook, pointed to the phrase 'I want a haircut' and I was shown indoors, trying my best to ignore all the stares I was attracting from staff and customers alike. I was sat down in a chair and luckily, there was a woman who spoke basic English – I told her I wanted my hair shorter and showed her the photo I had. She nodded and told me to wait and, while I was waiting, a young guy with blonde-y/orangey hair gave me a copy of the Chinese version of 'Now!' magazine and a carton of pear juice.
Soon afterwards, I was whisked to a back room where the same guy washed my hair for me (poor bloke – he kept asking me questions, which I assumed was something to do with the water temperature, but all I could do was nod and smile at him). I was then led back out to the front of the shop – the man who was going to cut my hair attempted to ask me some questions in Chinese, but to my shame, all I could do was smile and pray the woman who could speak English would reappear soon. Luckily she did, and it turns out the man was asking me whether I wanted my hair dyed too (in the photo I brought with me, the model's hair was blonde) – I said no, and the woman said 'Oh, but this is a very beautiful colour' – and although it would be cheaper to get my hair dyed here instead of at home (£28 to get your hair dyed here!), at this point in time I was quite poor, so I had to decline.
The man who cut my hair did a very good job. A couple of times he asked to see the photo I had again, and I noticed that quite a few members of staff kept walking slowly past and staring (or stopping altogether and staring). In fact, one guy told me my hair was 'very cool' and another woman said I looked beautiful! Once the man had finished cutting my hair, he mimed taking a photo of me - I had no problem with that, so he got the guy with the orange/blonde hair (bless him, he was so embarrassed! I don't know why though, it wasn't like he was the one who was having his photo taken!) to take photos of me on his iPhone, while the man mimed cutting my hair from different angles! It really was very surreal....
Anyway, once the impromptu photo shoot was over, the woman who could speak a bit of English and my hairdresser took me over to the till so I could pay. The woman then walked me out of the shop, asking me if I liked it, and then (almost pleading) she said 'you come here again, yes?!' I said I would, definitely, and I meant it. It only cost me 38 yuan (£3.80) to get my hair cut, and I was treated like a star! I think hairdressers in England have a lot to live up to – if only more of them would proclaim that their customers were beautiful and cool and take photos of them – I'm sure they'd get a lot more trade! The best thing though is that now whenever I walk past, everyone inside the shop smiles and waves at me, and if they're outside, they say hello (or 'ni hao') too!
This incident occurred a few weeks ago now and, once again, I'm starting to notice my hair is getting floppier everyday, which can only mean one thing – I'm going to have to go and get my hair cut again. I'm going to try and hold out for a couple more weeks, and then I was thinking of surprising my new best friends by going in and not only asking for a haircut, but asking them to dye it as well!! Watch this space, no doubt getting your hair dyed in China will be a bit of an adventure too...