At home, I always get my hair cut at Pine Street Barber Shop. I’ve been going there since my sophomore year of high school and in college, I lived in a house in the same neighborhood. Whenever I needed a haircut, I just walked up the street and made an appointment, or if I was lucky, got taken as a walk-in.
Those days are over! (Well, at least until I find myself back in Richmond, Virginia)
My friend Jill and I decided to adventure together to find a place that wasn’t too expensive and where we would be accepted as walk-ins. This isn’t a tall order to fill, so we met up at Apujgeong station, where Jill had been previously with a Korean co-teacher for a straightening treatment and our friend Laura had gotten her own hair cut. It’s also the district that my yoga studio is in, so I felt more confident looking for something in that area than others. The problem was that Jill couldn’t remember the name of the salon or where it was and Laura was hiking. We were just relying on dumb luck.
We came across a place called Pro Hair that looked affordable (our budget was W30,000) and we walked in, attracting a lot of stares. Still, people were friendly, and we got led to side by side chairs.
There was a certain amount of confusion over questions about names and How do you like Korea and Where do you live? etc but Jill’s haircut went fairly smoothly. The stylist seemed timid but we figured she didn’t have much experience with Western hair, which is not as coarse as Korean hair.
My haircut went a little differently–first off, my nostril piercing caused the stylist to literally gasp. I wear a very small silver stud in it, so I braced myself for her reaction when she discovered the tattoo behind my ear, but that surprisingly didn’t end up shocking her as much.
Another patron spoke English and helped us translate, which was a huge help. The Korean stylist could not believe how short I wanted my bangs cut (Koreans typically wear a very heavy bang that falls right below their eyebrows and I wanted mine a little above my brow) nor that I wanted her to cut about 3 inches off the bottom of my hair. It was translated to me that she was worried I didn’t know I would end up with a very different hairstyle. I only wanted it to look more like it does at home, but with me wanting to trim off and re-shape 4 months of hair growth, I can see why she thought it was so drastic.
It also made me uncomfortable how she examined my scalp in semi-horror but through translation, Jill and I found out she was concerned about how dry our hair and skin has become and eventually, we got free conditioner samples out of it, so I guess it wasn’t all bad. I just didn’t appreciate feeling as if I was a science project or something.
After receiving the stylist’s card and paying, we headed out for dinner in Apujgeong. There is a lot of Japanese in the district and we ended up fortifying ourselves and our cute new hair-do’s with some sushi. From there, we went to Hongdae, not to drink, but in search of the Hello Kitty Cafe.
Hello Kitty Cafe ended up being tucked up into an alley and was probably the pinkest place on earth. It was actually difficult to take pictures inside or outside because the building glowed a pinkish orange.
We found seats inside the cafe and I felt like I was about to order coffee inside Malibu Barbie’s beach house. There were pink plush seats, chandeliers, walls, water pitchers, and even a pink Christmas tree! Jill and I posed for some photos at our logoed table before ordering our drinks and I had fun directing Jill to get her head just below a big pink bow (like Hello Kitty’s) that was painted on the wall.
When our order came up, our coffee drinks were laden with whipped cream, our dessert waffle with frozen yogurt drizzled with unnaturally pink strawberry syrup, and on the edge of our plate, a Hello Kitty logo stenciled on with chocolate dusting.
Jill and I have agreed to go back sometime and bask in the pink glow, eat a Hello Kitty shaped mousse cake, and look out through the Hello Kitty shaped windows. But not too soon, because I don’t think I can handle that much sugar for awhile!
Or, to be honest, that much Hello Kitty.