Destinations Magazine

How to Avoid Getting Bad Bowl Cuts Abroad

By Davedtc @davedtc

Grand-Palace-Gargoyles1An American backpacker braves a bowl cut (almost) from a proverbial Third World barber. . . .

The man in front of me, shivering in the swiveling chair, was almost completely bald with two bushy fluffs upon either side of his noggin, resembling a sad circus clown with no friends.

Or, Bozo.

Or, Krusty.

Or, Larry from “The Three Stooges.”

Then The Man with the Haircut eyed himself with envy, congratulating himself on now almost resembling the King of Siam, Yul Brynner, instead of an Asian Rip Torn, the star from “The Hollwood Squares,” and not much else. Wasn’t Rip also on “Bewitched”?

But more important, this Thai Rip still had an impressive mustache, resembling a hyphen nicked in by a newspaper copyeditor from “Der Spiegel.”

But no, not for long.

And then within seconds, no hair at all adorned Rip’s skull, nor his upper lip.

Hence, The Man with the Haircut paid in baht, which gives away the fact that we were in Bangkok, Thailand—home of the cheapest haircuts in all of Southeast Asia.

And just like almost anything else, except for perhaps a lap dance on Patpong I and II, you regret what you pay for.

(Some Bangkok barbers even hold cardboard signs on the street advertising their cliché accomplishments with the clippers.)

My turn: “Just trim the sideburns and take off a half-inch off the back.”

Not seeming to really understand, the black-haired barber, who resembled Spock with a bowl cut, or almost everybody else in Southeast Asia, shaved my sideburns all the way off, and with a fabulously impressive southpaw swipe.

“No, that’s not what I meant!” As I stared into the mirror, I came face to face with my own mortality.

The barber paused like a painter without any training before his easel of dot-by-dots, waiting for a completed image to come to mind.

“One half inch?” the barber asked.

“Yes, I mean wait!”

Swiftly, Spock carefully layered my hair, cutting off the split ends, but left the back untouched except for the half inch I had requested.

I felt like dying I looked so ill.

I felt like a Billy Ray Cyrus farang with a mullet.

I felt like Bono during his bad hair years.

I felt like a grown-up “Caillou.”

The next man in line, a saffron-robed Buddhist monk who already looked like he had had a haircut, carefully put down his Asian fashion magazine, chanced a glance at my abject misery, and then bolted out like a poltergeist through the open oblong of extreme sunshine.

From his high-pitched cackle of evident hilarity, I wondered if he had been in on it.

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