The conversation (in Chinese) at one of the ‘take a ticket from the vending machine, wait in line and hope’ style hairdressers here in Taipei went like this:
Me: hi, happy new year (since the Lunar New Year has just started I find that wishing people a happy new year immediately gets them onside and distracts them from how crap my Chinese really is).
Hairdresser: hi, happy new year (followed by something I don’t understand, followed by “ticket” in English).
I hand him the vending machine ticket, he gives me a receipt and the ‘discussion’ about the haircut begins.
Me: (pointing to a picture on my phone) I want this.
Him: A fringe? (Thankfully the person I am staying with had just taught me the word for fringe earlier that morning).
With much pointing and miming and a couple of words thrown in here and there we determine the length of the fringe and the amount to be trimmed off the rest of my hair.
He gets to work and I sit back and hope.
Turns out I got lucky and he is a hair artist – he take ages perfecting the cut and the result is even better than I had hoped.
Afterwards he gives me a comb as a present and I give him what my dictionary tells me is called “small fee” in Chinese. Even though tipping doesn’t seem to be common in Taiwan I think it is important to recognise hair artists as they can make or break your whole month (or three, or six if you get your hair cut short enough!)