After almost 6 months on the road, I was starting to get really, really sick of my hair. I’m used to getting it highlighted and/or cut every 2-3 months, mostly because I love change. But I didn’t think I’d get my hair done while traveling. Here are some
totally naive thoughts I had before we started traveling:
- I can go a year without getting my hair done; it would be good for its health and it isn’t a priority for me. After a few months of traveling, I’ll be a super-hippy-minimalist and won’t be vain enough to care what my hair looks like.
- Getting my hair done will be expensive, and I’ll be sticking to a tight budget.
- It would be too difficult to find a reputable salon that I trust enough with my hair.
As it turns out, reasons 1 and 2 aren’t true. I can’t go a year without getting my hair done, mostly because I crave change, and my hair was starting to look very ratty. As for reason 2, hair salons are extremely cheap in Southeast Asia. Reason 3 actually turned into a reason for why I wanted to get my hair cut while traveling; I wanted to experience a hair salon in a foreign place, regardless of their reputation. In fact, it added to my craving for a new hairdo.
Where it Happened
Boracay is an extremely developed island in the Philippines. When we went out to dinner our first night there, we passed by a few different salons that all looked pretty decent and advertised prices ranging from $20-30 for a hair cut & color. That really stoked the “I-need-a-hair-change-fast” fire.
But what really put the nail in the coffin (too many metaphors?) was when we passed a super cute, tiny shop called Happy Salon. It only has 3 chairs and 3 workers. When I went in and asked how much it would cost to get my hair dyed, the adorable, flamboyant stylist asked me to take my hair out of its braid. After inspecting it, he showed me a few hair samples to make sure he understood what I wanted (“I’m sick of my mixed-hair color. I’d like it to be all one color, close to my natural color”). Being totally sold by his enthusiasm and professionalism, I made a quick appointment for 2 hours later (giving us time for dinner at Munchies).
How I Almost Backed Out
I spent the next couple hours freaking out to poor Pete over our fajitas, worrying this was a decision I’d come to regret. Being a mostly type-A person, it made me really nervous not to read any reviews (which I usually do pretty intensely before choosing a salon). I was also nervous that this man probably had most of his experience dying Filipino hair, which is pretty different from mine. But since this was something I’d been wanting to do for months now, and because I like getting out of my comfort zone, I decided to stick with it.
I decided to go for it. Everything was great for the first 15 minutes or so, until the moment when I thought I’d made a horrible decision. This moment started when the man working on my hair got silent and his eyes widened as he dried my hair. I’m aware of how vain this sounds, but I almost had an anxiety attack when I saw that the bottom half of my hair was blue. Very, VERY BLUE.
Pete, who was watching this whole thing from a chair behind me, texted me, “I think it’s the blue that you got once that is causing issues.” Yes, one time in the not-so-long-ago past, I intentionally got a few blue highlights. But this was a whole new, uninvited blue. He proceeded to shampoo my hair, then dye it, then wash it again, then dry it. It was still blue. But – third try’s a charm, right?! He dyed and washed my hair once more, for the third time.
When he was dried my hair after the third shampoo, I was in awe – my hair was a normal, brown color! I told him he was a magician; he told me I wasn’t the first person to call him that.
I’m realizing there’s not really a point to this story. Maybe – try something new, and you probably won’t regret it? Or, don’t be high maintenance and wait until after your travels are over to get your hair done?
Have you ever gotten your hair done in a foreign country? Or just had a similar terrifying hair experience?