There comes a time in every woman’s life when she needs to find a new hair dresser. It can be nerve-racking and stressful – a bad haircut is hard to hide. Now imagine finding a hair dresser in a country where you don’t speak the same language as the hair dresser! Nightmare.
Up until this point, I’d had my hair cut by a very good friend who had been a hair dresser before coming to Korea. However, she was on holiday and I was starting to resemble Justin Bieber. Something had to be done.
I decided to try the Vidal Sassoon Salon. It had a Western name (not that it meant it was actually affiliated with the real VS but it made me feel better), and had been recommended by several friends.
In most places in Korea, appointments are not necessary. You just walk in and someone will see you eventually. Hair dressers, doctors, dentists, mechanics – no appointments required! I can’t figure out how this system works in a nation of almost 50 million people but I’ve rarely ever had to wait more than 15 minutes. Amazing.
It was the same at Vidal Sassoon. I walked in, caused a small panic (“You Korean speak, yes?”), flipped through some magazines in the waiting area and was seated in a hair dressing chair in under 15 minutes. Brilliant.
A young woman came and brushed my hair. Was she a hair dresser? I wondered. She finished brushing my hair and left. A young man came over and introduced himself as a hair dresser. We “discussed” my haircut needs.
Hair dresser: You… hair….cut?
Me: Yes, but just a little.
Me: A small bit? Not a lot?
HD: A lot?
Me: NO! Um….. like this! (I held out my hair and indicated how little I wanted cut off.)
HD: Ah! You want [Korean words].
Me: I don’t know. Do I?
HD: [more Korean words]
Me: Gosh. Sounds …. great. Let’s do that.
We smiled at each other and he left. Another young man came over and started cutting my hair. I was a little worried. Who was this man? Did he know what I wanted?
A timer went off across the room. The young man put the scissors down and went over to free a woman from some sort of electrical hair contraption. A young woman came over and began cutting my hair.
It was the most bizarre hair cut I’ve ever had. Hair dressers came and went but never seemed to confer. All the clients were treated in the same way. How did they know what we all wanted? I felt like I was on Old MacDonald’s farm: Here a clip, there a clip, everywhere a clip, clip! 😀
The same happened when it came time to dry my hair. The hair dryer was handled by no less than 8 people. And each hair dresser (I assumed they were all hair dressers) felt the need to comment on the amount of gray hair I have, and point out that I really should dye it.
“Um…. thank you?”
I have no idea how but I got a very good hair cut. The whole entertaining experience (plus a marvellous head massage!) only cost 14,000 won! (~$US12)