Haircuts in Phnom Penh can seem much like a picnic

Shave and a haircut costs little more than two bits in Cambodia.

Shave and a haircut costs not so much more than two bits on the sidewalks of Phnom Penh.

Gentlemen, when did you last have your hair cut with manual clippers, that is, without the insistent buzz of electric ones.  My last time was a couple of weeks ago.

I think my previous such occasion until moving to Cambodia must have been when I was around 10 years old, so long ago that I have no confidence in the memory.  (What I do remember is the Odell Hair Trainer, a cross between glue and shellac, that a Watertown, Mass. barber — yes, “barber” — used to sculpt my locks into a frozen wave mighty enough to make a surfer envious.)

About one thing my memory is quite clear, however.  I know I never once had my hair cut al fresco. Here, I could.

I have no idea what my father forked over for a haircut in olden times, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was more than I have been paying in Phnom Penh: $1.50 or $2, including tip.  I so far have tried two different indoor “salons,” each with air conditioning, thus a price that is twice what Lin has been willing to spend without such an amenity.  That’s right: 75 cents for him in shops that are open to the street.

At least his haircut was off the street, but some haircutting entrepreneurs opt for rent-free space.  Whether they have to bribe the woefully underpaid police is unknown to me.

Haircut 2

It is true that it doesn’t have be so cheap.  I assume it is possible for a woman to spend more than $25 for what passes for a styling in some of the most expensive neighborhoods and possibly much more in a posh hotel.

Given my short hair, however, I don’t really see any point in spending more than a couple of bucks for a shearing that looks pretty much as it did in New York for 10 times the money.

You can get more than a trim in Cambodia’s tonsorial palaces — manicures, massages, shampoos and so on.  I’d tell you what they cost, but I don’t want to ruin your day any more than perhaps I already have.

Email: malcolmncarter@gmail.com

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