THANH BARBER SHOP $-$$
Services: Haircut, Shave, & Ear Cleaning
A standard make-over for men in Vietnam
Crammed between two shops along bustling Cửa Đại, sits an unassuming, single-room building – Thanh Barber Shop. The worn sign out front was the only indication of what lay inside, the letters fading from the barrage of years of sun and rain. Inside is a simple setting, with no bells or whistles, for men looking to avoid the fluff.
As there’s no idle chit-chat here, I pointed to the desired haircut on the wall and Mr. Thanh went to work. The smooth movement of his hands with scissors and clippers indicated a man with a thousand haircuts under his belt. And, through the whirring of snips and snaps and the mushroom cloud of fine clippings, a new man slowly emerged.
On to the groom
Without skipping a beat, the undeniable scent of shaving cream announced the arrival of a true test in trust. A finely-honed cut-throat razor flashed in Mr. Thanh’s hand. With my naked throat exposed, my spiraling anxiety focused on a single straight edge, a bead of sweat the only betrayal of my apprehension.
But Mr. Thanh deftly delivered the closest shave I’ve ever received – oh so polished and smooth. All my anxiety soon slipped away, like the fallen mass of hair littering the concrete floor in his assured hands. Removed with fervor too was unwanted hair from the base of the neck, between the eyebrows, along the ears, and even from the forehead. A scorched earth policy was in effect.
And out with the wax!
With a flash of light disconcertingly long cleaning rods glinted out the corner of my eye and the ear cleaning began. A proper ear cleaning is like scratching that deep itch that’s been just out of reach for so long. So satisfying, it sent eargasmic shivers down my spine. Meanwhile, a tower of gooey ear wax was accumulating on my resting hand, a truly insane amount that sent Mr. Thanh into fits of smiles and chuckles. It was a laugh that reached beyond culture and language. As the cleaning progressed the sounds of the world emerged sharper and a clarity I didn’t know I’d lost returned; as if the last drips of water had finally drained from my ear after a long swim.
Abruptly, another intimidatingly long cleaning rod appeared glinting in Mr. Thanh’s hand. Without time to shout ‘Stop! what the…’ Mr Thanh nudged my head back and, using his off hand to pry my eyes open, began to swab the areas around and underneath my eyelids. Kicking and squirming like a freshly hanged man, the experience was – thankfully over in a flash. And if I’d been The Flash, I’d have been out of that chair way before this uncomfortable end to an overall positive and professional experience had begun.
A new man emerged!
In the end, I left Thanh Barber Shop following a payment of 160.000 VND for the full service with a newfound confidence and a spring in my step (and considerable relief I was still able to see!)
The feeling after a clean haircut and a close shave is unique, and I’ll be returning next time I sense the shaggy look return. It’s a simple local experience, with no bright lights and devoid of gaudy looks plastered on the walls. You will find no hair coloring, no scented oils, only the essentials. The essentials to help you feel your best.
Places like Thanh’s Barber Shop may not have that welcoming look outside, but you will leave feeling your best on the inside. And that’s what matters.
Add: 578 CửaĐại, Hội An