A Travellerspoint blog

Haircut headaches in Lishui, China

Who needs kneading knuckles

sunny 28 °C

We both knew this wasn't going to be a simple mission. Indeed Megan first broached the topic by telling me about her friend Stacey's botched dye job here a couple of years ago. Who knows what style she was going for, but needless to say, it wasn't meant to turn out blue.

So, taking fellow Lishui resident Sandra's recommendation of a new hair salon off one of the main streets that had verily achieved the shortening of her hair, we resolved to give it a try. Just on yours truly though, since my average male top suggested few major upsets could occur.

You would think. That was before they slapped me in a barber's chair that was either unadjustable or was already at its highest setting, and asked me to slouch. Our excuse of me having a 'stomach ache' (read: bruised ribs; so nasty) just barely satisfied the lady below, who could scarcely reach above my head.


After what seemed like about 12 rounds of lathering gloopy shampoo in my hair, the lady then started trying to massage my head. I know many people in the world like massages, but I'm not one of them, and most especially not on my head. She was actually aiming both index fingers at the back of my head and then flicking me. This hasn't happened since secondary school, when it was meant to be annoying. So was this.

Thankfully Megan saved me from the worst part of the massage, which was to drop the chair back to horizontal and start bashing my shoulders. Nonetheless the lady tried ignoring our entreaties a couple of times, and was getting a bit injured at our reluctance to her wares. She had also stuck a huge ear bud in my ear and nigh on fondled my brain with the goddamn thing. Mercifully she could not physically make me be massaged, for she seemed as though she would have liked to.


Several rinses later, we came to a different chair and, finally, the actual haircut. By this time I was breathing a sigh of relief to be presented with a man with scissors. Sorry ladies, it's just so much easier that way. A few brief instructions from Megan and a nod from me, and he was cutting away. Aside from a few friendly questions, I had a serviceable cut in no time at all. I even consented to having it combed into a Chinese boy-style fwap at the front afterwards (see below), purely in the name of intercultural dialogue obviously!


Once washed again at home the next day, my hair was back to normal and looking just like it did about a month ago. Which unfortunately means it may have to be cut again sometime soon. Dear readers, is long hair back in fashion by any chance?

Posted by BillLehane 15:40 Archived in China Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

The Funny Side of Life in China 2

Future emperors with a temper

sunny 26 °C

Back by popular demand, dear readers, is 'The Funny Side of Life in China'. You know the drill by now: abandon cultural sensitivity and just laugh at the Chinese use of English. If you haven't checked it out already, prepare yourself by reading 'The Funny Side of Life in China 1'. Now without further preamble, here's another set of crazy snaps from around the Middle Kingdom...

So freshly open they're still building it, Lishui's new Wal-Mart is already taking aim at the hitlist of things you just can't get here. Sandals could be a bit of a problem though!

Let's head for the snooker, eh, plub.

'Nihao. I just split my head open.'

One careful owner...

You just have to read this...

Probably seemed like a good name, but...

I dunno what this means. Beat poetry, maybe?

Needless to say, there was no one around.

Well, no wrong words as such, but it just doesn't quite get there

More reasons than one to squint here. Yes, it does say 'enrironmentol'. Oh dear!

He's cross that Emperor

They just can't seem to get the litter signs right!

No need for caution, this place's impervious to fire and smoke it would appear.

Lastly, oh how we laughed at this. Check out the year - he's the cyborg emperor! Until next time, dear readers, enjoy the 21st Century while it's still here :-)

Posted by BillLehane 01:11 Archived in China Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

Teaching the world in Lishui, China

'My favourite country is Africa. I love New York.'

sunny 21 °C


The assignment, on the face of it, should have been simple. Choose your favourite foreign country, write seven sentences about it and then read your work out to the class the following week.

I had given all the Senior One students a 45-minute lesson on Major Countries of the World (a bit of a misnomer, I know) which included six or seven examples of countries they could talk about. They also got ten or 11 suggested categories such as population, location, language, leaders etc. All they had to do was copy one of my descriptions or write one of their own in the suggested simple style.

The results were, well, pretty bad. Many of them obviously hadn't bothered to do the homework at all, and were just bluffing their way through about 2.5 sentences in the hope they would get away with it. And many couldn't even do that much - at least one stood up and said: 'USA. I like NBA. Thank you'. And promptly sat down. X is for fail, mister!

The most popular country was Canada, but only because loads of students had found a stodgy piece about it in their English textbook. The result of this was that I must have heard the same spiel - 'My favourite country is Canada. It is north of the United States. It is the second largest country in the world. It has a population of only slightly over 30 million people' - about 40 or 50 times over the course of the week.

Out of the some 350-odd students a few, to be fair, were quite good. One girl gave a presentation on Switzerland that could have doubled as a Wikipedia entry. One boy said his favourite country was South Africa because it had lots of gold, and that when he found it he would be very rich. A few chose Ireland but seemed not to know what to say about it except to ply me with compliments. They all passed!

Many more in the middle ground had perfectly acceptable mini-speeches primarily about the US, Canada (genuine ones this time), France and Japan. Even where they just regurgitated what I had said in my introduction, I felt that they had done their job for what was an Oral English assignment.

Culturally, the exercise was instructive despite the flawed results. Boys liking basketball while girls like romance (or clothes!) seems to be the benchmark of Chinese teenagerdom. Some of the wider-eyed ones like neighbouring Japan while the boorish boys at the back hoot in derision, though I'm sure they know little about contemporary geopolitical relations or their roots. And nobody seems to be able to pronounce 'cheese'.

In the end then, my first foray into assigning homework was a bit of a mixed bag. But addling, lazy assholes aside, it's mostly a pleasant job being a foreign teacher in China I reckon. You draw up a simple lesson on PowerPoint and just run with it for a week, improvising and fine-tuning as you go along. And once you're plugged in to it, the work goes by really quickly, leaving plenty of time for fun.

So until next time, dear readers, check out the new photos of myself and Megan's trip to Xiandu Scenic Area and assorted other ones, and remember - French is not a country and neither is Paris!

Posted by BillLehane 23:16 Archived in China Tagged educational Comments (0)

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