To my mind there are few things more excruciating than needing to get a haircut when you’re in a non-English speaking country.
How do I communicate how short I want it? Are hairdressing standards the same all over the world? Will I still have my ears afterwards?
These types of questions play tiddlywinks with my grey matter as haircut time draws ever nearer when I’m travelling.
I’m sure it must be even worse for women and men who are much vainer than I. You see, I only ever want it as short as possible, without making me look stupid. Short and cheap are my only two requirements.
It must be a real nightmare for those with complicated hair dos. Then again, in Southeast Asia in particular, it’s a lot cheaper for women to have their hair done than it is in London, say, or even New Zealand.
My fiancé Nicola put some colour in her hair in Bali because it was so cheap. She’s going to whack me around the head when she reads this, but it turned out her definition of “blond” was slightly different from the Indonesian hairdresser’s.
It ended up a shade or orange used primarily for the high-visibility vests worn by road workers. Fortunately for her, it came after I asked her to marry me (I am definitely a dead man).
I’ve never had any major trouble getting a haircut abroad. In fact, despite my worries, it’s usually been a pretty hilarious experience. Make that awkward but memorable in a funny kind of way.
I remember one time in Luang Prabang, Laos, I felt like a supermodel when I went to have my haircut at a little shack where the locals go to get theirs. Women were posing for photographs with me and kept touching my hair.
What should have been a 10-20 minute job soon became an hour-long odyssey, as each individual strand was seemingly shorn from my scalp. Next, they dragged me towards the sink and started washing my hair – at least that’s what I think they were doing. It felt an awful lot like they were trying to drown me.
Another time I had my haircut in Brussels in Belgium. That guy, too, didn’t speak a word of English – or at least he didn’t speak any of it to me. Instead, started cutting before I had time to mime how short I wanted it. You know what, though? I think it was the best haircut I’ve probably ever had.
Still, I’m waiting for the day when a hairdresser carves their initials into my hair or, worse, dyes my hair bright orange.
Have you had any trouble getting a haircut when you’ve been overseas?