Monday, February 23, 2009

Two Beijings: The Haircut Example

We sometimes wonder what is the “real” Beijing: the new, glitzy buildings and malls, or the older, earthier areas. Of course, they are both the “real” Beijing, but one is definitely cheaper than the other! Take haircuts, for example. Rick has twice gotten his haircut on the street by itinerate barbers who carry supplies on a bike or cart. They whip out a chair and voila, you have a shop. This week he got a haircut, complete with finishing touches from an electric shaver powered by a battery on the barber’s bike, all for 5 kwai – about 80 cents. (Yes, less than $1.)

Judy, on the other hand, went the same week down to the Chaoyang District, which caters to the expatriate crowd. You can live like a westerner in Beijing, but you pay more than western prices. For a color, highlights and cut at the Cie de France salon, it cost 800 kwai – yes, $120. Rick could have gotten 150 haircuts for Judy’s effort to hide the gray.

By the way, we were wondering if Chinese men simply didn’t go gray until they were in their 80s. The truth is simpler: they die their hair!

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