We had seen images of outdoor barbers in Vietnam, entailing a mirror hung up in the street with a chair right on the sidewalk. Thinking that this was a relic of the past, we were delighted to see such an operation just across the street from our guest house as we rolled into Son La.
That said,visiting the street barber was the first order of business after we were situated in our guesthouse. Never mind that I didn’t really need a haircut – the opportunity was simply too good to miss.
We made our way over just as the barber pulled up on a scooter – back from lunch I suppose. He was wearing a nondescript button up and slacks, just like everybody else in this town. I gestured that I wanted him to cut my hair and he laughed, completely surprised by my request – my guess is that he doesn’t have many curly-haired American clients.
I took a seat while I waited for the guy before me get his hair cut. After he trimmed the top, the barber took a single edged razor, sharpened it against the wall, and began trimming the guy’s neck and earline . The hygiene of the situation made me nervous – I wasn’t so excited about an old, used razor sharpened against a dirty, graffitied wall being used on my neck when I can’t even brush my teeth with the water in Vietnam without getting sick. Bree and I exchanged slightly concerned glances before it suddenly became my turn.
I somehow gestured “not too short” and “just cut, no trim” and the barber seemed to understand. I also told him to let my beard grow. With the straight edged razor out of the picture, I settled into his chair, relaxed and watch him go to town on my sticky helmet hair.
It was amazing at what he could do with an electric razor and an old pair of scissors and speed at which he worked. I paid something on the order $0.70, shook his hand, and following a quick picture was on my way with one of the better haircuts I’ve ever had. I suppose now that the barber and I both have a good story.