Well yes, Q-tips are available in Cambodia, but. . .

thumb_IMG_0951_1024There’s a barber shop — okay hair salon — that is a 10-minute walk from my apartment.

A few months ago, I upgraded from my customary one, which closed and used to cost me $3, including tip, about once a month.

An acquaintance recommended Tokyo Barber Shop because he so enjoyed the shampoo and accompanying brief head, neck and shoulder massage.  After indulging myself in the process there and shelling out $7, including tips for the shampoo and haircut, I became a convert.

What you have to know is that the barber shop is not unlike others here in offering not only a shearing but also other standard services.  Those services are manicure and shave in addition to some that I didn’t expect.
thumb_IMG_0952_1024Frequented by expats in addition higher-class Cambodians, the business also provides body scrubs massages and . . . ear cleaning.

My dim recollection is that barbers in medieval times performed surgery on customers and tooth extractions.  My memory also contains an appreciation of Sweeney Todd.  

Given the foregoing information I suppose I should not be taken aback by the last service I mentioned.  But seeing one of the staff probing another employee’s ear with a sharp instrument, as shown in the photos, alarmed me on a recent visit.

barber4I cannot imagine trusting that ear drums are not regularly pierced, though I have not heard of that particular misfortune.

At the same time, I don’t know why some folks here don’t just frequently wield Q-tips or its imitators — they are available for free in my gym locker room, for instance — to ensure that nothing gets in the way of sound transmission.

One technique of which I have no evidence here is something called ear candling, a supposed indulgence that I read about in the New York Times.  Personally, I won’t hear of it.

Even though ear cleaning at the barber shop would run me a mere $6 for 30 minutes of what looks like aural bliss, I think I’ll forego the experience.  In fact, I know it.

E-mail: malcolmncarter@gmail.com

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