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Day 10: My Favorite Haircut Was in Bishkek

Day 10: Contemplating Hair Styles

Day 10: Contemplating Hair Styles

I tend to go a long time in between haircuts, especially when I travel. The idea of having to deal with a new place and a new language on top of it can be distressing. Do I tip… do I not? How do I ask for what I want?

Part of the fun of learning Russian was getting to the point where I felt comfortable heading out into the world to approach real-life tasks in the language. The day came when I felt it necessary to test my skills and get a haircut in Bishkek.

I wandered around looking for something resembling a salon for about an hour. Even with the directions I had received from Zamira (the girl who served us our beer at the Kondor), it took ages, which could either have been her directions or my comprehension of Russian. Woops.

When I was about to give up, I found a lovely little place with pink walls and five stylists working away. I told the receptionist that my Russian wasn’t very good, but I don’t think she passed it on to the stylist because she seemed a bit shocked when she heard me incapable of explaining what I wanted. So, those words I thought I knew beforehand were obviously not enough.

She stood there for a second, this young Russian woman with bleach blond hair and frizzy ends, until a light-bulb clicked. The stylist grabbed a handful of magazines and took her time while we flipped through them together using my limited vocabulary to tell what was good and bad about each one.

Overall, I didn’t care what happened to my hair, but we eventually found one that looked cute, and that’s when the fun started.

haircutI’m talking free beverages, a thorough scalp massage and shampoo, a very nice cut and blow-dry for less than $10.

Not only was it the best haircut experience of my life, my hair looked awesome! I was overjoyed.

Dropping my 300 som at the counter was well worth it, and it was so good that I even called my friend after I walked outside to make sure I shouldn’t tip. I know it’s not a tipping country, but for service that good I just felt like it should be!

I’ve been thinking about doing a huge chop-off of my hair — it is summer in Sydney after all — which sparked the memory for this post.


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15 Responses to Day 10: My Favorite Haircut Was in Bishkek

  1. Adam @ SitDownDisco January 10, 2011 at 9:37 pm #

    How short are you going to go? I went short in Malaysia. Real short.

    • Brooke January 11, 2011 at 6:48 am #

      I’m thinking about the length in the picture. My hair has been growing super fast lately though, so it would be back to normal in no time 🙂

  2. Kirsty January 10, 2011 at 11:51 pm #

    What a service for under $10! My first haircut abroad was rubbish 🙁

    • Brooke January 11, 2011 at 6:47 am #

      Bummer 🙁 I got lucky I guess!

  3. Jill - Jack and Jill Travel The World January 11, 2011 at 3:21 am #

    Lol, something about my thick, and ridiculously volumous Asian hair I can’t never get a hair cut I’m happy about here in California — even after visiting the highly recommended salon and paid more than I should.

    The one hair cut I’ve been very happy about is my last one… I got it in Indonesia for $1! Go figure…

    • Brooke January 11, 2011 at 6:45 am #

      Wow a buck! That’s awesome! 🙂

  4. Rebecca January 11, 2011 at 7:22 am #

    I lovedlovedloved my stylist in Auckland. I am not one to care too much about a haircut (hello, it’ll just grow back anyway!) and actually never really went to a proper place until I was abroad. Supercuts all the way!

    Felt weird not to tip, especially since I loved my cut every time that when I got my hair cut right before I left the country, I gave her a pretty big tip, as it is the custom for me!

    And ever since I have been home, my cuts just aren’t as good! (Very timely post as I just got my hair cut this weekend and was missing my NZ cut tons, it just isn’t the same!)

    • Brooke January 12, 2011 at 8:39 pm #

      Yeah the tipping thing is really hard to come to terms with. I like tipping, especially for good work or service 🙂

  5. Jonathan (@retrotraveller) January 11, 2011 at 9:56 am #

    Interesting post and jogged a few memories for me… there have been a few times I’ve had to get a hair cut or shave when travelling and it is alway interesting trying to explain what I want… especially when neither of you speak each others language.

    I remember how difficult it was explaining which clipper setting I wanted to a Uyghur barber in Kashgar so I didn’t end up with a bald head!!

    • Brooke January 12, 2011 at 8:41 pm #

      Haha, I can feel your pain. I was so glad she busted out those magazines!

  6. Zablon Mukuba January 11, 2011 at 5:05 pm #

    nice haircut

  7. Earl January 12, 2011 at 9:30 pm #

    There have been times when getting a haircut overseas has worked out quite well, but I think the majority of the time I end up with something that appears as if my hair was hacked at with a machete. But I can never complain considering that I typically pay $1 for a cut when in India or a few more dollars in other countries!

    It is always a nice surprise when a head massage is thrown in though, so glad to hear that was part of your experience!


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