When I travelled in my twenties, I didn’t have any grey hair. Unfortunately though, I do have some now, and I blame all my exes for this! This means that every four weeks or so I have to have my hair coloured, which can be challenging when traveling in foreign continents for long periods of time. Because of the language barrier, I find foreign hairdressing experiences a little nerve-wracking. Leaving your hair in the hands of someone who just doesn’t understand your instructions can be a bit of a risky move. I always worry I might walk out in tears with shades of plum or pistachio in my hair.
However, I realised that going to a neighbourhood salon (not those for tourists) can also be a very interesting and authentic travel experience. Just like taking public transports or eating in local restaurants, it really gives you a good insight into the locals everyday life.
Salon chairs are like therapist couches, they create some sense of intimacy that invites people to open up about their personal lives. When I was in South America, I could understand a little bit of the ladies gossips. I would hear them ranting about their husbands or raving about their first date. It was an interesting intake into their culture as well as being entertaining.
Of course I didn’t understand what the Thai ladies where gossiping about this morning, but it was still a memorable experience. I was in a small family owned salon in the outskirts of Bangkok and the clientele was mainly elderly women.
My hair was washed with a rubber watering pipe, like those we use for the garden. The water was cold but I did not mind that. It is 35 degrees and quite humid here.
It was fascinating watching the techniques, the tools and products they use, the paper they read, the pictures on the walls and the religious ornaments in every corner. But the best thing was watching how the ladies worked and interacted between each other. They were constantly laughing away like silly old dolls and even If I couldn’t understand a word they were saying, it was just beautiful to watch. And most importantly, I did not walk out crying!