I was told I’d be able to cut hair while I travel, but I didn’t really think there’d be a huge opportunity. Why me? Why would random people in random cities trust me to do their hair? Sure, I know I know what I’m doing but how do they?
The time I cut 5 five guys’ hair with tiny mustache scissors and trimmers, in a Paris hotel bathroom, did cross my mind. But that was different. I’d been traveling with those guys for weeks. They knew me by that point.
I brought my shears and clippers with mainly to maintain my own hair. And for the off chance I was caught in a “will you cut my hair with these mustache trimmers?” predicament again. (For the record, each one of those haircuts turned out amazing!) But after haircuts in Chinatown, I’m sure I’ll be using my tools more often than I thought!
As soon as the group at The Oasis Hostel in Chinatown found out I was a hairstylist, several haircut requests were made. I guess getting a haircut by a random girl who speaks English is less risky than a Thai professional who does not.
Late on a scorching hot Monday afternoon, I set up a makeshift salon outside the front door of the hostel. It consisted of a card table, a bar stool, scissors, clippers, a comb, and a cup of water that I used in place of a spray bottle. I was dripping sweat but excited to be cutting hair!
The Business Man
First up was the owner of the hostel. A Danish guy desperate for a good haircut. Chatting with him for the half an hour it took to cut his hair, reminded me of one of the many reasons I love doing hair. Good conversations!
When you’re giving a haircut, your client is the only thing you’re focused on. You can’t be on your phone or watching T.V. Giving or getting that kind of attention is rare in today’s day and age. I learned way more about him and his business than I would have in the brief, distracted, encounter we would have otherwise been reduced to.
He also advised me, like any good business man would, how to make money doing hair in hostels. He let me know what people typically pay for a good haircut in Bangkok and threw me a couple hundred baht!
Just a Buzz Cut
The second guy was the other hostel owner. His cut was quick so I didn’t get to talk to him as much as I would have liked to. Cool guy though. He let me use his clippers to do all the haircuts. I couldn’t use mine (well, it would have been much more difficult to) because I forgot to pack the guards. Fail!
The haircut request initiator was the guy who checked me in when I arrived. Remember, the guy who invited me to the Songkran festivities? Well, apparently, a few days prior to my arrival, a few people at the hostel drunkenly buzzed off his long hair. I’m not gonna lie, it looked like someone took a weed wacker to his head.
“I’m going to have to cut your hair because I won’t be able to look at that mess for the next couple of days,” I said when he asked me if I’d cut it for him. If they’d gone any shorter, I wouldn’t have been able to salvage it.
My final haircut client was the German guy from the sister hostel. His hair was longer than the others, hovering above his shoulders. It was extremely straight except for the ends that flipped up. When I asked him what he wanted, he said “I just don’t want to look like an upside down tulip anymore.” That is exactly what he looked like.
We debated for awhile, scrolling through Pinterest and old photos of him on his phone. He’d been wearing it up for the past few days so I was reluctant to cut it too short. There’s nothing worse than going to put your hair up and it’s too short (I know that all too well). Plus his girlfriend was not thrilled with the idea of him having short hair.
After a lot of debating and a lot of questioning we’d gotten no where and we were running out of time (him and his girlfriend were headed to Koh Toh that evening.)
He said he trusted me so I went with my gut and started cutting. A long undercut gave him the best of both worlds. I was happy with my work, he loved it and his girlfriend was happy that he was happy. Win Win Win!
UPDATE: I’m currently in Chiang Mai, Thailand and about to meet up with one of the guys I met while I was staying in Chinatown in Bangkok. He wants a haircut! Looks like I might be adding another one to Chinatown haircut list! We shall see!
Also, I bought myself clippers, WITH GUARDS. Now I can cut my own hair (it’s way over do) and possibly his!