Thursday, December 11, 2008

adventures in salon services

I have a motto for my life here in Shanghai, which is "every day is an adventure in China" because literally, every day is an adventure.

Even the smallest task like ordering a drink at a restaurant becomes a huge deal. Oh, when you said iced coffee you meant a coffee with ice not a coffee with two giant scoops of ice cream? Oops. Want some peanuts from the supermarket? Be prepared for a surprisingly not peanut-y tasting peanut. How about some dried strawberries? Oh yeah, you just bought hawthorn, whatever the eff that is.

A lot of it is the language barrier, but it's also the cultural differences and everything else. I've learned to laugh it off because when I think about it, I'm a guest in this country so I can't really expect my host to bend over backwards to try and make me comfortable (although that would be awesome). Besides, translation errors are pretty much my favorite thing about this country, though they have gotten me into trouble from time to time.

Despite my recent posts on shopping and getting coats and dresses made at the fabric market, I have made a little bit of an effort to live more Chinese aka less American. America is a land of luxury and credit cards, China is a land of spitting in public and poorly made knockoffs. So I've tried to avoid all the tempting Western restaurants in my area and opt for more traditional (and inexpensive) Chinese fare, or I'll just cook something myself.

But there are some things a girl just can't give up. What's that saying? You can take the girl out of the valley, but you can't take the valley out of the girl? I'm not sure if that's how it goes, but this Cali chick needs a little pampering once in a while. Thankfully massages here are super cheap (10 USD for an hour!), other salon services...not so much. I've been doing my own mani/pedis mostly because it's easier than going to a nail salon, but waxing is something I can't do on my own, and it's something I always did at home that has become a staple in my beauty regime.

So, I had been here a couple of months and I really wanted to get my bikini waxed. I'm still holding off on doing my brows because seriously, a slip up with my eyebrows could make me look deformed for weeks, but I figured a bikini wax was a safe zone for a mess-up, I mean how could you really mess that up, anyway? *cue foreshadowing music*

There's a few places in my area that offer waxing services. Chinese people don't get waxed (at least not the Chinese women who attend my gym) so it caters to all of the foreigners in my area and thus charges a ridiculous price. As I was looking at the "menu" for services I noticed they had three types of bikini waxes, in ascending price order: bikini, playboy, and Brazilian.

I figured "playboy" would be my best bet because it was right in the middle price-wise and I didn't want them to just barely wax me. I didn't really know what they meant by calling it a "playboy" wax, but I figured it was in between a regular bikini and a Brazilian because I KNOW what a Brazilian is, and I didn't want that for sure. I'm not against Brazilians, but there is a time and a place for them and it's friggin' winter time, I don't need to go too crazy with my waxing choices.

So anyway, I go in, tell them I want a playboy wax, then the chick takes me to this little room and starts the service. Of course, I couldn't see what she was doing, and even though I get waxed regularly it's always super painful and feels like they're taking off way more than they really are. She used this weird putty stuff that you don't need paper for, which I actually really liked, but there was a lot more touching than a usual bikini wax because of the absence of a paper barrier.

Flash forward 20 or 30 minutes. She hands me this mirror to see the end product...and OMFG...she gave me a Brazilian!!! I was SHOCKED! The look on my face was classic, and she got really nervous because I sort of freaked out mumbling stuff about "Wait...isn't there supposed to be...wait...what?...this isn't right..." and I may have even waved my arms around a bit. Later, I looked on the salon's website, and they described the procedures like this:

  • Brazilian Waxing – removal of unwanted hair from the front, back and in-between, leaving just a 2 cm "landing strip" in front. Tailored for wearing a 'thong' bikini.
  • Playboy or Hollywood Waxing – removal of all unwanted hair from front, back and in-between. When you don't want to wear anything at all.
Obviously, it was my bad, however, every other country in the world knows that a Brazilian is the removal of all hair. Then again, China is the exact opposite of every other country in the world, so I should have known better.


Andy said...

So, you actually got a Brazilian, but it was not a Brazilian because it was a Playboy?


Taryn said...


KC said...

This story reminds me of a story my boss once told me about when she taught in Japan. She was homesick and went to the grocery store to find something she recognized. She really wanted a bowl of cereal so she went to what she thought was the cereal aisle and got something that looked like Cocoa Puffs. Then she got mill and went home and was so happy to eat it. However when she busted everything open and poured herself a bowl, she realized she was eating potato chips with heavy whipping cream. Ugh. She couldn't read anything on the package and went by looks. Hehe.
That's a funny story. However, at least if you ever accidently wander into the Chinese red light district (and you KNOW there is one!) you'll be ready!
They would love you. Haha.

Strawberry said...

andy - are you secretly really Chinese? because i swear to G you sound just like them! hahaha


KC - haha omg, i have LOTS of stories about accidental food purchases. and ya, i like to keep up with waxes because WHO KNOWS what's going to happen, yknow? it's better to be prepared than not, wouldn't you agree?