Sweat and fear on Gili Air

Beads of sweat trickled in salty waterfalls down my nose and splattered to the ground.

I was sitting in a small wooden chair in a room with no fan and no windows, my knee twitched nervously as I expected the worst. A long shadow stretched past from behind me so I knew it was time…suddenly a blade appeared in the corner of my eye.

No, it wasn’t a secret police interrogation – even worse…..

A haircut in Asia.

I said earlier that driving a motorcycle in Southeast Asia was horrifying, well it could only be surpassed by putting your head under the growling clippers (circa 1970’s) of someone who doesn’t speak a word of English.

I walked all over the village today trying to find the “salon” as the locals call it. When I finally found it, it turned out to basically be a woman’s stark living room. A woman who happened to own a pair of scissors and ancient clippers which she had to cut out of my hair several times when they jammed to a halt.

As the hair fell in showers around me to the concrete floor, I tried to ignore the fact that her three small children were staring at me the entire time in horror. They couldn’t believe a white person was sat in their house – hell, I couldn’t believe it either.

Luckily, we were all in agreement that the sooner this was over the better and pretty soon she signaled that the massacre was finished.  I tried to avoid looking in the cracked mirror.

As I dug in my pocket for the $2 I owed her, she pointed to all the hair on the ground rather than my head.

“Good haircut!”  She beamed with pride so I didn’t want to tell her that haircuts are usually not judged by the amount of hair on the ground afterward. Here in Asia its quantity rather than quality.

“Yes, good haircut.”

I settled up, said goodbye, and ran like hell for the ocean.  All in all, it was a nice interaction with the local people here on Gili Air and despite the fact that I look like an ARMY basic trainee now, it was nice to see the woman smile. I’m sure they’ll be talking about it tonight.

I timed my haircut just perfect, almost minutes later the power for the island was out again.  The generators are broken here and there has been maybe a few hours of electricity in the past 4 days.  The beautiful thing about it is that I never missed it!  Other than having no contact with the outside world, life has gone on just fine.  I bought a package of candles, food is cooked with gas or in wooden ovens, music is played on acoustic guitars, and it has been cool enough at night to survive without a fan.

Electricity? Who needs it. (although a cold redbull would probably taste better than a piss-warm one) I couldn’t be happier to be lost on a tiny dark island on the equator. Yet another travel lesson learned, luxuries are luxuries.

The volcano sunset doesn’t take batteries and its been free every night. Life is good! (even in the dark)

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2 Responses to “Sweat and fear on Gili Air”



  1. We need to see pictures of that haircut!

  2. lol i can just see you with a army buzz cut! You probably made that woman’s day. I agree with alex, we definatly need some pics of this haircut. And i have to agree hot red bull sounds pretty near disgusting

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