Some blogs are just handed to me on a plate and this is definitely one of those.
This morning I finally ventured into a Hong Kong hairdresser for the first time. I desperately needed my Japanese straightening procedure done and had been searching for a few weeks for a recommendation of where to go for this as it’s not something you can get done everywhere. I finally got a recommedation and booked myself in straight away as there’s no hiding the frizz in this humidity!
Having had this treatment done twice in London, I know it’s a long process, about 4 hours, so I normally arm myself with a book, magazine and a fully charge iPhone to pass the time! I had been warned by the person who recommended this place that it’s pretty grim inside but it does the job so just absorb myself in the things I’d brought and I’ll be fine. What’s the worst that could happen? Stupid question, when it comes to hair, there are more worst-case scenarios than bear thinking about!
Anyway, forget the entertainment I’d brought with, the things that went on around me were just too good not to gawp at.
I arrived at 9am. The salon is on the 6th floor of a building on one of the streets known commonly as ‘The Lanes’ where they sell all sorts of markety bits and pieces. As soon as I approached the building, 2 ladies outside were already greeting me, ushering me inside saying “Yes, Yes, Beth, Beth, 6th floor ma’am.” I have absolutely no idea how they knew that I was the one coming in for an appointment before I even got to the building entrance – was my frizz really that bad?! I went up in the grotty lift where I just about managed to bring myself to touch the filthy buttons with enough pressure to register the floor I needed.
Inside, the salon was completely empty apart from one man and one woman. I established that the woman was Beth who I had my appointment with and she sat me down and started checking out my hair. I assumed that the man was her husband, although I was surprised to find him awake and sitting in front of a computer watching some kind of violent cartoons. I’d been told by my friend that Beth’s husband worked night shifts and was always asleep on a bed in the salon snoring loudly!
As Beth worked on my hair, a few staff members came in and a few more customers. Beth, her husband, the staff and all other customers apart from me were all Philippino and all seemed to know each other well so there was a lot of chatting going on and they were all engrossed in the TV that was on in the salon. Now, a 4 hour procedure at the hairdresser leaves me just about losing the will to live by the end. Today, this was in no way helped by the Philippino TV channel that I had to endure with no escape. It was clearly Philippino daytime TV but it seemed to be one long endless programme that was like a cross between The X Factor and some of those late-night audience participation programmes where everyone makes a total idiot of themselves, like The Word with Terry Christian from the 90’s! It was dire, truly cringey, but everyone else found it hilarious. I really hope they didn’t think this was good TV. Where was This Morning when I needed it?
Beth washed my hair, painted it through with the magic solution, wrapped it up in the plastic that had been draped round my shoulders (interesting tactic), looked at me, said “nine thirty” and walked off. The time was 9.40 so I was clueless as to what she meant by that. She gave me a few magazines and I asked for some water. Then I was left to finish my book in peace and after an hour of reading and people-watching Beth returned to wash the solution out. She then sat me down to begin the long process of drying my hair and then going through it a few strands at a time with straighteners. This was the slowest part of the procedure but I’m used to it so knew what to expect. The best bit was the things she put over my ears to stop my ears burning if she nipped them with the straighteners. I can only describe them as looking like mussel-shells, what a fabulous invention! Must mention that at Martin Gold next time I’m there! Then, at about 11.30 interesting foody smells suddenly started wafting round the salon. I think there was a kitchen area in one corner. Before I knew it, suddenly all the staff members started sitting down to lunch in the middle of the salon! Once Beth had finished my straightening my hair, the whole procedure is then repeated so she painted the magic stuff through my hair again, wrapped me up and went to join her staff for lunch. The whole thing was really quite bizarre.
I was expecting another hour or so of waiting but after about 20 minutes, another staff member came up to me, I think she was the one who had made lunch for everyone. She looked at me through the mirror and said, “Please ma’am,” gesturing for me to get up. For a brief second I thought she was inviting me to join them for lunch! Then I realised she was just beckoning me over to rinse my hair off as Beth was now busy with another client. Doh.
And finally, after 4 hours I was done and my hair was beautifully sleek, straight and swishy. I’ll save my final judgement for after I first wash it but for now I was happy and desperate to get out of the now very busy salon. I felt very self-conscious being the only Westerner in the place!
I’m sure I’ll return to Beth and the gang in about 6 months time though to reacquaint myself with their morning routine! My personal award for the most interesting staff member has to go to the transvestite that I couldn’t take my eyes off. He had a big, broad, manly body, long hair, pink lipstick, a soft voice, denim mini-skirt and a pink top that was too short so he kept flashing his belly, plus he had a bra underneath that he had to keep adjusting as there was clearly nothing in it to keep it in place!
Maybe all these interesting people are just brought in for people like me who need to stay awake during an otherwise mindnumbing 4 hour procedure, but I doubt it!
The final highlight was when I was charged $606 dollars at the end. For a clearly ‘cash in hand’ establishment, $606 was a bit of an odd price. A great price nonetheless as it’s a third of what I pay at home. I was informed that the $6 was for the water. Right. I won’t be passing that idea on to Martin Gold.