Thursday, June 28, 2007
Thursday in Nanchang- Chinese Haircut
Let me start from the morning- another incredible day in Nanchang to tell you about.
We had breakfast and were greeted by the lovely Rose. I mentioned I was having a bad hair day. Rose said, "We meet at 3, take you to get Chinese hair cut." Sure, why not!
Junie Bug was such a ham today. So lively and giggly. She loves to stand up. In fact, she can PULL HERSELF UP and CRUISE. Can you believe that? An 8 month old orphanage baby. She is so so proud of herself. She will pull herself up while saying what sounds like, "Up up up." Probably not. Then again, who knows? She's amazing, that kid! She just laughs and laughs. Especially when she falls down.
We did observe some heartbreaking behavior that started today. When she's tired, she just flips out. She screams, I mean SCREAMS and claws at herself as she is falling asleep. Hysterical thrashing, in complete fear of falling asleep. We are not sure, but wonder if falling asleep means the crib, which means no interaction for hours on end? Or did something bad happen as she slept? I have never seen a baby react that way. It's downright frightening. We now just give her a bottle when it's time to sleep. Hungry or not, she gets a bottle and it eases her to sleep. She won't take a pacifier but she will suck on the bottle until she is calm and passes out.
Today we boarded the bus and headed to a village just about 10 mins outside of the city. The agency likes us to see a typical village setting, to show us where our daughters would have come from. They asked us not to post pictures, but we can show friends when we get home. It's as bad as you can imagine. We brought candies and treats for the children, who gathered around us and followed us everywhere we went.
We headed back into the city to a shopping area that has a famous porcelain shop. We bought a set of family chopsticks with chopstick holders. Also some small tokens of appreciation for the friends who have been helping us while we are gone.
On the way out of the store, we saw a man skinning snakes alive in the street. EEK! Ok time to move on to more pleasant scenes, please. I'm finding that is China. You have a scene like that not far from the pedestrian mall where the young and beautiful hang out at the arcade and play Dance Dance Revolution.
We headed back to the hotel while the group headed to Mcdonalds. We wanted another delicious meal at the Chinese buffet. While dining, Jason approached and asked me just what I wanted done with my hair. Curly or smooth? Color? Or just a cut? He said he needed the info in order to select the perfect Chinese salon for me.
I met them around 330 and we headed to the salon. We crossed several Nanchang streets. I will never get used to that- ever! Ok, here is where is gets really interesting. I walked into the salon and the entire place STOPPED. Everyone turned and stared. I didn't get pictures, so let me describe the scene. The salon was one large room. Women who looked like candy stripers are at the front door to open it for you as you walk in. They gather around and ask what you want done. The stylists themselves are all dressed in black. They have that incredible razor cut Asian hairstyles I so admire. The men have the modern Duran Duran cuts. The women look like rock stars. It's quite a contrast to the candy striper girls.
After much back and forth in Mandarin, everyone finally got what I wanted. A very short bob in the back that gets longer as it goes to the front. That's not a popular cut in Nanchang right now. The girls all want 80s big hair with lots of layers or razor cut smooth long hair. The men want the spiked out Duran Duran style hair. No one wants a bob. Maybe grandmothers do. Great, I'm out of style, even in China.
Then a young candy striper girl sat me in a chair and began pouring a solution in my hair. She then lathered up the solution right there in the chair. Not near a sink or anything, just in the chair. That turned into a head massage. I swear it lasted a half an hour. I kept asking Jason how much this was going to cost me! And did I tip the shampoo girl, like we do in the States? He said no. But I could and she would be thrilled to get 20rmb from me.
Then she took me to the back of the salon to a large table. I laid on the table and hung my head into a sink. She rinsed my hair and gave me another head massage. Then a face massage. That's when the other girls crowded around me. I was looking up into a sea of young Asian girl faces who were all giggling at me and saying, "Hello hello!" Then more giggling and frantic Mandarin. Rose shooed them away and rolled her eyes.
After that, I was lead back into my original chair and the girl took a Qtip and did- get this- an inner ear massage. I did not like it one bit. Totally freaked me out. I asked Jason to tell her to please stop.
The total process I just described? One hour.
Then I was led to another chair where my rock star looking female stylist opened her bag and grabbed a bunch of razors and scissors. I was seated in the window, so all of Nanchang could walk by and watch me. Lovely. I'm telling you, I attract A LOT of attention in Nanchang. No one is over 100 pounds here. And none of the Americans go the places I have gone.
She began cutting. Rose reached into the stylist's bag and began doing her hair as well. Things are really different in China.. as if you haven't noticed that. The stylist then began making unhappy noises. She said my hair was too curly for this style and I needed it relaxed with Jet- some relaxer product. I said no thanks. I know how to blow dry it straight. Of course this took ten minutes to convey through translation. Jason had to look up words on his phone.
A half hour passed and she was still razoring and snipping. Then some styling. Then more razoring and snipping. Then a long discussion about my bangs, which I am growing out. She did not like them just laying on my face. She had to cut them a little bit, she said. Then more styling. Then more cutting.
Total hair cut time? 1 hour.
Total cost for the entire 2 hours. 11 dollars.
Are you just freaking out over that or not?
Oh, and I look amazing. It's an Asian razor cut, which I wanted. It's a super duper short bob. As Jason said, "You have new Asian dress, new Asian haircut, and new Asian baby. You are almost Asian woman."
While I loved the experience, I missed chatting with Katie, who does my hair back home. There's nothing like not being able to communicate with someone about your hair as they have a razor in their hands and are chopping away.
I know, I'm brave. But it's so worth it. I will NEVER forget that experience.
After the cut, Rose and Jason asked if we could have dinner together. Our agency group was dining together, but asked our coordinator if we could skip the dinner. They said fine and also mentioned that I was one adventurous lady.
We went to a popular Chinese restaurant close to the hotel. Another place where you have this long flight of stairs that leads to an enormous restaurant. So huge. And packed! Overflowing with people. We sat at a table overlooking the street below. Rose's six year old daughter and husband joined us. We had a great meal, Nanchang beer, and a lot of laughs. Especially when I had to use the toilet. Another squatty potty! And guess what? There was a woman throwing up in the one next to me. How you do that, must take a lot of talent. When she came out, I noticed she was yet another high style very thin Chinese girl. See! Even around the world, women go to extremes to be thin.
Rose's husband paid for the meal. It came out to 25 USD. We tried to hard to pay, but he insisted.
We walked back to the hotel, where I asked them to hold on a moment, then raced up stairs and presented them with gifts. They were SO uncomfortable. I told them, please, I wanted to give them some items from back home. Nothing much- but just something to remember us by.
So that is my hint to anyone traveling. Bring extra gifts. You never know who you might befriend along the way.
Junie was amazing this entire time. She loves going everywhere we go. She loves eating- she chowed down on fish tonight. But she is catching my cold and I feel terrible about that. Ugh.
Most young Chinese women are obsessed with beauty. Even tho we are in Nanchang, which isn't the wealthiest of Chinese cities, the young women are dressed to the 9s. The latest in hair, makeup, and clothing. Teetering on high heels, so thin and most are very beautiful. It can give a big American girl a real complex, real quickly. Especially since I only brought my big baggy old clothing.
Ok it is very late. I am not sure when we will be back again. Friday is going to be pretty crazy. Breakfast, then pack, then rush out to buy extra coordinator gifts (we have three, thought there would only be one) and have our bags at the door by 130pm. We leave at 3pm for the airport. I am terrified because it rains HARD each day about the time we will be taking off. Ugh.
We should arrive in Guanghzou about 6pm and will check into the White Swan. Saturday will be a free day and I hope to blog as soon as I can.
Talk to you then!