GENTS ONLY CLOSE SHAVE In Chiang Mai
While ladies have a million ways to keep their baby-soft cheeks in check, us fellas tend to rely on soap and water and a wink in the mirror each morning. But perhaps we should take time out of our busy schedules this week to visit one of the char-ming razor-wielding barbers of Chiang Mai for a good old-fashioned male pampering experience.
Now I speak strictly to a male audience here – those who probably don’t go in for so much body care on a day-to-day basis. But you might find that a 20-minute visit to a local barber in Chiang Mai might be just the meditation and rest you so badly seek in the middle of a hectic day. In India, the barber will scrub your face so hard you’ll think you are in a wrestling arena. In the Middle East you will leave the shop reeking of cheap cologne. In South America, they will begin by scrubbing your face with a bar of soap, and in Vietnam you might find that the barber’s shop sign is simply a front for an altogether more pleasurable service indeed.
But nowhere in the world do they provide such a good shave as in Thailand. Simply go in a barber shop and ask for a “gon nuad.” You will invariably be invited to lie back in a chair by a veteran of the blade,
who will then gently tie a white bib around your neck and shoulders.
Now close your eyes and submit your throat to the masked 0sman above. He or she, will lather your face carefully with a horse-hair brush and then, with the whistle of steel slicing delightfully down your cheeks, scrape all that nasty stubble into the dustbin of history.
A good barber will shave downwards once and then up again. He will snare the hair that hides in the secret garden of your chin cleft; will deftly prune the unruly wires that sprout from your nose, your ears and your eyebrows; and will gently sandpaper the stubble on your chin and above your lips. And, when he’s finished, he’ll do it all again a second time.
For the next round, some barbers prefer to pat your face down with talcum powder (the barber’s forensic duster for hunting bum-fluff). Otherwise, get ready for the next step of your journey, which is the delicate shearing of your ears, your forehead and the back of your neck.
Now your entire mug is flawlessly fluffless, but dry as a desert. So your aidede- blade should have prepared a lovely, wet, steaming hot, lemon-scented towel to wrap around your head. This is the piece
de resistance - any barber who does not include this service, is not worth the visit. Post-shave pampering is what it’s all about. If in doubt, insist on a post-shave face spa before you begin. Pay an extra 20 baht if necessary. Otherwise, the experience is about as refreshing as rubbing sand in your face.
Anyway, assuming you have been bidden to lay back and enjoy the hot towel treatment, you should now be ready to move onto a smooth facial scrub. Your barber will lovingly wipe your peachy jowls down with an icy cold towel and then dab raw alcohol into any nicks in the artwork. And just in case you haven’t already melted into jelly yet, a good barber should always finish off with a firm massage of the head, the neck and the shoulders.
Et voila! In only 20 minutes you are feeling soothed, content and refreshed. Your cheekbones are sculpted, your chin quite statuesque, and your perky little jowels are smoother than 100 babies’ bottoms. All that for around 50 or 80 baht. Not bad.
Chiang Mai Barbers, where to go?
For many years a series of traditional shaving parlours have occupied the street just west of Wat Suandok on Suthep Road; these are great places to get the old-fashioned treatment.
Another place is located on Ratchawong Road, next to Neramit Tailor Shop. It is call Baanjong Kesa Barber Shop and is one of the oldest barber shop in Chiang Mai (50 to 80 baht).
Skill Barber Shop on Huay Kaew Road, is a great place to go to (80 to 150 Baht). This place is also one of the very famous places in Chiang Mai where to get special head shaving styles.
For fashionable styles, you can’t beat The Cutler Barber at 62 Samlan Road inside the south side of the moat. Prices are somewhat higher than the previous venues (150 to 200 baht) but well worth it if you are looking for a hip new look. Reservations are recommended.