Recently, I wandered into a barbershop hoping to get a better cut than the first one I had here. Even though no words were exchanged between us, the kid cutting my hair seemed to know just what to do, and I was pleased with the outcome.
As I went to pay, I was asked if I wanted a shampoo. Why not? I was led into a back room and instructed to lay on a “bed” with my head hanging over a sink on the end. The woman soaked my hair in cool water and began washing, scratching my scalp with her nails. It felt great knowing she was getting all the loose hairs out after my cut. After the rinse, I lifted my head thinking she was done. I was wrong.
My head was pushed back down and soon conditioner (or lotion) was being rubbed through my hair. This time, instead of scratching she massaged my scalp. Every inch of it. She rubbed, tapped, hit, pulled, pushed and stretched every part of my scalp. It was pretty amazing and I almost broke out into laughter a couple of times as I pictured how ridiculous I must have looked.
After another rinse I again began to lift my head, only to find out we were not even close to finishing. I was a little shocked to feel her hands suddenly cover my face with lotion as she used the same techniques to massage my nose, eyes, ears (inside and out), cheeks, forehead and chin. She moved back and forth between my scalp and face. By this time, I knew I’d be in for more surprises, so it wasn’t such a shock when her hands moved to my neck, and then lifted my shoulders as she massaged my upper back.
The entire massage lasted about 45 minutes and ended with hot towels on my face and neck and another thorough rinse. She cleaned inside my ears thoroughly with cotton swabs and made sure everything was dry. There was a quick blow-dry and a final styling of my newly cut hair before I finally got the bill for this hour of pampering – $5 total for the cut and the “shampoo.”
I left the barber shop and walked out into Hanoi’s busy streets again, but I was in a daze. My face felt cleaner and fresher than it ever has as I headed down the street feeling like I’d just woken up from a dream. After that experience, I think I’ll be getting a haircut here every week.