Making the move from Beijing to Xian can be easily done one of two ways; 1) the soft sleeper: a rather comfy non-smoking 4 person compartment, and 2) the hard sleeper: a not so comfy 6 person area with no privacy. Very similar to sleeping on a marae. Kids crying and screaming at all hours, people snoring, oldies (or in this country, everyone) hacking up their lungs, music blaring, people walking round bumping into things...
You get the picture. Only its happeining with 3 tiered bunks as opposed to mattresses side by side.
The soft sleeper is the better option for a better nights sleep on longer journeys. The hard sleeper is the poorer man's option (me) but offers a much more disturbed slumber. So thirteen hours after leaving Beijing we arrived in Xian. A drizzly day greeted us and at seven o'clock in the morning, it already seemed awfully warm.
Finding our hostel's rep was a bit of a mish, should've just followed all the other people with backpacks and we would've found him earlier! Arriving at our hostel we discovered the construction site out front- lovely early morning wake up call I imagine- and joy of all joys; a squat bloody toilet!! Not a big fan of these let me tell you.
However never mind the bladder, first order of the day- shower! The drizzle that was going on outside was probably a lot more than what was happening with the water in that shower. But I was clean and smelling much better than before so I was happy.
Next order of the day- haircut. Ever got a haircut in a foreign country where they usually spend all day in the salon? No? Well neither had I. Until now. All I wanted was a damn cut. Just a cut. Nothing else. Just cut it off!
Well! After I showed them the cut I wanted, and they spent ten minutes washing my hair and massaging my scalp, (and trying to get me to coulour my hair) they called the actual hairdresser over. At which point he promptly told me he couldn't give me the cut I wanted 'cos my hair wasn't straight enough. He needed to give it some "medicine" to make it smoother. This of course was going to triple the price of the hair cut. (All of this came via the very good English of the daughter of another customer) I told her to tell him to just cut it. She did and that was the last I saw of her. I don't think he (the hairdresser) was impressed with her sales pitch.
Anyway he chopped away at my hair in a very flamboyant fashion with his long fingernails and very silver scissors. I thought he was doing quite well, there was a good shape and the stlye seemed somewhat conservative but I was happy. He however, was not. I have a "cowlick". He was frustrated by this. He tried cutting away at it. He tried snipping away at it. He tried blowdrying it in a gentle manner. In the end he held my hair practically in the drier with a brush and got the desired effect- straight hair!! Meantime of course it was all I could do to not wet myself with laughter at the look on his face! Priceless! Next time they see a foreigner outside their shop I don't think they'll be quite so keen to open the door. All in all my haircut experience was a success- I got a good "do", I had a bit of a laugh, and got to experience a cut that took about as long as an average "cut 'n colour" would take. Marvelous! And for only roughly JPY300 (approx USD3)!
Ya just gotta love it!!