The travel backpackers journey is one of stinky clothes, sore feet, bumps, cuts, bruises, and if you’re anything like me, long shaggy hair and maybe a beard. My locks of dirty blonde usually get so long while I am on the road that they begin to form a sort of preppy boy mullet. That is until I finally bite the bullet and find a decent barber who can give me crisp clean lines with a straight razor and a proper shave. And let me tell you, there are few pleasures in life better than getting a sharp new hairdo and a clean shave from a smiling man who doesn’t understand a word you’re saying while sitting in a city that you have never been to before.
The first time I ever had a proper cut and shave with a straight razor was in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (in the Golden Triangle which is KL’s commercial shopping and entertainment hub) on Alli and my first day in the city. Alli had wanted to get some work done that morning, so I decided it was the perfect time to get my hair cut – otherwise I probably would have waited another month and really looked like a full blown Joe Dirt, or an emo bang kid (my hair can go either way).
So I stepped out of our hostel (Step Inn is great spot by the way in case you are looking for cheap accommodation in KL)
and set out to find a respectable barber. Luckily, I did not have to go far because around the corner and past the Hindu Temple, I found a tiny little hole in the wall with people lined up to get their hair cut after their morning prayers (it’s also currently Ramadan). So, I sat down, waited my turn and after not too long I was sitting in a barber’s chair pointing at a picture of some strapping young gentleman with great hair that Alli had found online. My barber did not speak English, so this was really the only way I could tell him exactly what I wanted. Pro Tip: Even if the person cutting your hair does speak the same language as you I have found that having a picture of what you want is hands down the best way to ensure that they don’t completely butcher your hair.
For reference, here is what I looked like before
And here is what I looked like after 😉
Not too shabby, right?
Remember how I mentioned that this was my first experience being shaved by another man with a straight razor? I am not going to lie I was a little intimidated by the idea of putting my neck at the end of another man’s razor blade, but I quickly discovered how amazing this art truly is. I walked away with the best shave of my life hands down (skin as soft as a baby’s bottom), and not a nick in sight. And the best part was that the whole experience only cost me about $5.
I was happy, my barber was happy that I was happy, and Miss Alison was very very happy for she had not kissed my soft shaven lips in many months. Moral of the story- don’t be a bum go get a hair cut and a shave when you’re on the road. There is nothing else quite like it.
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