A New Haircut and My Hair Drama During Long Term Travel

Yes it finally happened, I got a new haircut!  I was pretty nervous about it, I don’t speak Vietnamese after all, but my hair was bothering me so much (more about that in a minute) that I figured it was worth a try, worst case I can always end up with a really short pixie cut buzz cut and hair grows back anyway, right?

Well here are the results:


IMG_20161203_022202.jpgI think it actually turned out better than what I was even asking for since it has a kind of retro (or maybe even a French?) look to it that works well with my curls frizz.  What do you think?

Back at home in the U.S. I have always been a short hair kind of girl and I would usually straighten it.  But when we were getting ready to do this long term travel thing I was a little worried about having short hair for various reasons.  I didn’t look forward to dealing with the frequent trims that go along with short hair, especially when you consider that the person cutting my hair probably wouldn’t speak English.  In addition, I wasn’t going to have a hair dryer or straightener with me, and availability of the hair products was also a concern.

This is me about a week before the haircut.

On prior international vacations I was envious of the many gap year girls I would see who would just easily put their long hair up in buns so I decided that was my plan.  Once we knew we were retiring for real and embarking on our long-term travel adventure shortly thereafter, I started growing out my hair.  I also tried to prepare myself for the fact that coloring my hair probably wasn’t going to be a constant on the road either, so I was going to have to learn to embrace the mousy brown mixed with the gray.  Ugh.

Well I have to say that me and longer hair is a total fail.  I thought my hair would be pretty healthy since I wouldn’t be blow drying it and straightening it anymore, but that really isn’t what happened.  Instead of the long, silky curls that I pictured I just ended up with a big bird’s nest on the top of my head.  My hair was a dry, brittle, tangled, frizzy mess.

Oh, and let’s not forget that in addition to that I also started losing my hair on this trip and it isn’t stopping.  I mean seriously, my hair is falling out, a lot.  There is always so much of my hair scattered all over our hotel room floors that I even find it disgusting.  I constantly clog up shower drains and it’s so gross to have to pull my hair (hoping it’s only my hair) out of hotel shower drains.  Oh, and I think I may possibly be developing a small bald spot, WTF, seriously!!!!!!!!!!

Look at that “bun,” it’s tiny!  I guess that’s what happens when your hair is thinning.

I tried researching all of this a little and my unscientific opinion is that the top three contenders are possibly that I could be in menopause, it could be stress, or I could have a vitamin deficiency.  Of course there are lots of other possible reasons but I am trying to be optimistic that I don’t have some sort of horrible disease or that this is a permanent thing.  However, even the logical explanations don’t make a lot of sense to me.

I’m only 45, that seems young for menopause.  I don’t work anymore and have way less stress than I used to have as an attorney.  I thought I have been actually eating better overseas since I eat way less processed food and rarely snack (although I ironically weigh more  and am bigger than I have ever been) so I’m not sure why I would have a vitamin deficiency, but maybe my diet is lacking something.  Of course I’m not a doctor, so who knows.

I’m not quite willing to go to a doctor about this yet and I don’t think I’m quite at the point where I need a hair transplant (that was seriously one of the ways I saw how women could handle thinning hair) so I guess I’m just going to have to suck it up and deal with it for now.

But anyway, combine the hair issues with the fact it’s hard to feel that you look good on the road, (what with the limited clothing I repeat constantly, the limited familiar cosmetics and toiletries, and the fact I see my balding, bloated body in pictures almost every day) that I decided a haircut may actually be a good thing.

Shortly after we quite working we went to Peru for almost six weeks to test the long-term travel thing.  This is what my hair looked like at that time.

So while in Ho Chi Minh City I found a place to get a haircut.  I skipped the massage places that also had a haircut option thrown into the mix since I wanted somebody to cut my hair who actually hopefully had a little training and chose a random place where at least the chairs were the kind in hair salons instead of the kind where you sit to get a foot massage.

I was a little concerned because there were a whole bunch of girls dressed like bar girls sitting outside and inside the place I ended up at, but they knew enough English to tell me it would cost 120,000 for a haircut (about $5.30 USD).

When I went inside I was pleased when I saw it was going to be an older guy (i.e., probably about my age) cutting my hair who had a whole apron filled with scissors, etc. At least he looked like he had experience and knew what he was doing.  I don’t think he really spoke much English and here is the picture I showed him on my phone:

Photo of what I showed the guy

He looked at it for a minute and then laughed, not a good sign.  Then he just sat there combing (well, really trying to detangle) my hair for a little while.  Then he started cutting my hair while it was dry. That freaked me out a little since even though I am a cheapskate and always skip the shampooing process (I’m just going to go home and take a shower anyway) everybody always wets it before cutting it.  But alas, no need to panic, after a few minutes he reached for the spray bottle and did wet my hair down.  He actually seemed to know what he was doing and took his time.

After we deemed Peru a success we went back to the U.S., did family visits across the U.S. and then got rid of all of our stuff.  The first stop on our really long-term adventure was Taiwan, and this is what my hair looked like then (around July, 2015).

The benefit to him not speaking English was that I didn’t get a lot of questions or a lecture about why my hair was in such bad condition or why it was falling out.  He just cut while I watched the girls who looked like bar girls reapplying their makeup and playing on their phones.

I wouldn’t say that my hair ended up looking exactly like the picture I showed him but it never does anyway, even in the U.S.  I don’t know if it’s the curls frizz or what.  The results were better than I expected, I mean let’s be real here, it seems like most locals in Vietnam have long straight hair and I see very few people with curly hair or interesting haircuts so I didn’t have high expectations that anybody here would be skilled at cutting my frizzy, damaged hair.  The one thing that surprised me was that I wanted an asymetrical cut, but I pictured  both sides in the front would be the same length and they weren’t.  Oh well, gives it more character I guess.

Bye bye hair!

I have to say, overall I like the results and I really don’t have to do anything to it.  It would be interesting to straighten it, but I don’t have those tools available to me right now.

Yeah, I’ll probably hate it on those hot, sweaty days when I can’t pull it back, but I don’t think it looked that great anyway when it was longer and pulled back.  Yeah, I’m going to be in another country (probably Cambodia or Thailand) when I need a trim, but I’ll just have to deal with it.  Yeah, there still aren’t any products here for curly frizzy hair, but I’ll just have to keep conditioning constantly and hope for the best.

On the flip side I do feel a lot more like myself and now I kind of regret wasting so much time on hair I didn’t even like.

Anyway, thanks for listening.  Until next time.








3 thoughts on “A New Haircut and My Hair Drama During Long Term Travel

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