It’s been a little while since I wrote anything on here, I’ve got a bigger post planned soon about arriving in Hanoi and visiting Halong Bay, but I just had to share my story from today. What should have been a normal task became a unique experience.
When I left to go travelling in June I decided to celebrate my escape from custody from work by not shaving or cutting my hair the whole time I’m away. For the first time in my life I have the decent beginnings of a beard (although even 4 months in I still look more homeless than distinguished).
Recently that plan seemed ill advised and the new joy of knotted hair and worried glances from passing locals only added to the urge to cut it. Plus my photos to remember this trip with are plagued with an unkempt hairy yeti (thanks Lisa!)
So this morning, on the recommendation of my wonderful hotel receptionist, I set out for a haircut in Hanoi, and I have never had a haircut like it.
30Shine is a chain of hairdressers in Hanoi and the nearest only a short walk in the sun from the hotel. I think I only needed to dodge a hundred mopeds, a quiet commute for Hanoi.
On arriving it appeared like any barber in the UK, a few people in chairs being dealt with and a waiting area. I booked in using my best international charades, it turns out their English was only a little better than my Vietnamese, and waited.
Not long after, a young Vietnamese lady waved me over and showed a page with 3 options. I recognised some words like exfoliation but otherwise had no clue what I was looking at. Never one to cause issues though I just chose the cheapest one!
I was then treated to nearly an hour of pampering.
Laying back in the chair I had my face and hair washed, despite it still being wet from the shower this morning. I thought this was just to make it hygienic for the person cutting my hair but it carried on.
The head wash turned into a head and shoulder massage and my eyes closed and stopped worrying what was happening.
The next thing I knew a sharp pain was shooting through my nose as she began, what I now know, a black head removal technique all over my face.
Feeling vulnerable again I tensed for the next step but it appeared the torture was over for now. A cooling face mask was applied and the relaxing massage continued.
Once my beauty treatment was completed I was sat up and got ready for my haircut. Not so fast! She then began filing my nails and massaging my fingers. They are very attentive in Vietnam.
Finally ready for the actual reason I came in I was moved to another chair and met my hairdresser. Once again my Vietnamese limited the conversation somewhat but I showed him an older photo on my phone of what I used to look like and off he went.
This man took so much time and care with every strand of hair that I barely noticed another hour going past. I was eventually tapped on the shoulder and sat up to check out the mirror. It all looked good to me so I made to get up and pay. Nope! I was directed back to the washing area and given the third shampoo and conditioning of the day.
Surely now we’re done?
Think again, back to the chair for more styling and cutting. Another 10 minutes, and another head massage, later I was finally finished.
I began working out the cost in my head. The cheapest option at the start for the spa treatment had been 155,000 Vietnamese Dong. I imagined another 100 – 150,000 for the haircut for a total around 300,000 VND. About £10. Not a bad price at all.
Then the final surprise. That initial combo price included the haircut too. Everything for 155,000 VND or £5.36 at the time of writing!
I’m very glad I waited to Hanoi to get a haircut and think I’ll plan my future styling around a holiday to the area.
And just for journalist purposes a little before and after…
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