You should try getting a Shave during your Travels

Written by Kenneth Karl Nielsen on . Posted in Article

One of the major enjoyments that I am always looking forward to on my travels is going to the barber shop to get a shave.

Generally, it is absolutely fantastic to get a shave at a barber shop, but when you have tried it a couple of times, you actually start to appreciate the small differences and similarities of these shaves. In addition, you get to experience thing, you will never forget.

In the following section, I will tell you about some of the more spectacular shaves that I have experienced different places in the world.

Shaved with a Real Knife in Yogyakarta (Indonesia)
Already on my first long trip to Asia, I experienced several nice shaves and when I saw a barber shop in Yogyakarta, I hurried inside. The barber was high, fat and had a twinkle in his eyes, so I felt really comfortable. However, this feeling vanished completely, when he packed out his big barber knife, unlike any previous (and subsequent) shaves I have experienced, he did not use an ordinary razor blade. Instead, he used an, in my opinion, huge knife, which he grinded for the shave. I lay completely still during the shave and was very afraid. My fear war of course unfounded, as the barber knew his way around the art of shaving, and the shave, I had, was excellent.

The young Barber (Thailand)
After having wandered about in the neighbourhood around Khao San Road in Bangkok, I noticed a barber chair on which the barber’s 12 year old daughter stood waiting. I walked over there and asked when the barber came back. She did not understand a word of English, but told me to wait on the chair. Immediately after, she started to fiddle with the razor blades, and before I knew it, she started to shave me. I was awfully nervous, as I did not assume that she had had any personal experience with shaving. However, my fear was unfounded, and she gave me an excellent shave.

Catastrophe in Vejle (Denmark)
I was very pleased to discover that a barber shop had opened in Vejle, Denmark, and as a warm up for a trip to Indonesia, I decided to get a shave, as the last thing I did before jumping on a train to Copenhagen and from there the flight to Indonesia. I got of work early in order to have plenty of time, and I had arranged with the barber that I should come. When I arrived, the barber asked, if his apprentice could shave med and I said yes. I mean… How bad could it be, I thought.
However, it went completely wrong! It seemed to me that the apprentice had never given a shave before, and pretty quickly, he cut me several times on both my cheeks and my chin. As a result, I got very angry. The barber apologized to me 1.000 times, but I had to finish the shave with a disposable razor myself. Anyway, I looked awful, and when I met with my wife on the train, she was startled to see all the cuts in my face.

Under a Tree in Old Delhi (India)
After a strenuous tour in India, I felt like indulging myself a little at the end of the tour, so I wandered around in Old Delhi looking for a barber shop, but could not find one. On my way back to the hotel, I passed a large tree, under which a man got himself a shave.
Well, I thought: “Why not?!” and was next in the chair. All of the surrounding Indians laughed. I think, it was very rare for them to see a tourist in this makeshift barber shop. I laughed too, and it was really cozy. The shave was very fine, which confirmed to me that I have chosen the perfect barber shop.

Super Shave in Aswan (Egypt)
The best shave that have ever had so far was given to me in the town Aswan in southern Egypt. In my way down the large market street, I saw an old white-haired barber sitting outside his barber shop and just enjoying the street and the people around him. The mere sight of this old man filled me with a rare tranquility, so I immediately decided to ask him, if he wanted to give me a shave. Of course, he agreed, and it was an amazing moment. I felt like a sculpture in the hands of Michelangelo, as I was shaved by a man, who had almost made his profession an art form.
It is kind of hard to explain why this shave was so amazing, but if you walk down the market street in Aswan, and you see a really old white-haired man sitting outside his barber shop, do yourself a favour and have him shave you.

Besides the shaves mentioned above, I have been shaved a numerous of times in the countries mentioned above. However, I have also been shaved in other Arab countries as well as Southern European and Asian countries. A shave is usually very affordable, and the only important advice I want to give you is that you have to make sure that the barber uses a completely new razor blade or that his knifes are sterile. If not so, it could be a really annoying and unhygienic experience. However, I have never experienced that.

Photos from ozgurdanmaz iStockPhotos.com

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Kenneth Karl Nielsen

I am one of the founders of Backpacker Planet - I left on my first backpacking trip in 1994 and have kept backpacking around the world ever since.

Comments (1)

  • Hitch-Hikers' Handbook

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    Lovely blog! Thanks for connecting with us on Twitter! Keep up the great work and travel safe!

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