Mountains and Turtles and Hair, oh my!

I’m home alone again, and happily surprised to see that my computer and wordpress have worked through their conflicts for the time being. I don’t quite know what to write about, mainly because today and yesterday have been extremely uneventful. I’ve been unable to will myself to do anything productive beside read…I started Factory Girls yesterday by Leslie Chang. So far, so good.

I went on a long vacation (well like four days) with my American relatives, Uncle Jonathan, my aunt Xixi, and my cousins Bohan & Nina. We went to the Zhangjiajie mountains, which is where the movie Avatar was filmed. I mean, alot of Avatar is CGI, but still, the mountains here are prettymuch Pandora. It was beautiful, and I thoroughly enjoyed the trip..I don’t know if I have much to say about it though because now it’s been three days. all I can think of is that I cried when I saw them all because I was so happy, and cried when I left them..not necessarily because I was so sad, but because I don’t know if I’ll see them again until next summer, and they’re very important to me. I feel like I’m ripping them off, though, four crazy days of Disneyland-worthy lines just to see nature and I can’t even write a whole post about it? You should just look at pictures. I think they speak for themselves:

The second day I was back home, I lazed around for the morning, then was told we were going out to lunch, finally the whole family. My hair was in a I-just-woke-up ponytail and I had been wearing sweats, so I quickly slipped on real clothes and decided not much could be done about my hair. I needed a shower, but there wasn’t time. So I went out looking okay, but not good enough to meet anyone in.

We go to lunch and the first thing I’m given is my own personal turtle to eat. I…just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I had about two bites, which were good I’ll admit, but the fact that all of it’s organs were there and it’s shell and my family was EATING these things…I just couldn’t. When my father asked why I told him “my friend has a pet” and then I pointed at what they were eating. I don’t think he really understood, but I didn’t get in trouble or anything. My mom ate my turtle. The eating of the shell was the nastiest part to me…okay I’m going to stop writing about this because it’s putting bad thoughts into my head. There were other food options brought out so it’s not like I went without lunch or anything.

After this, I thought we were going home, but realized we were driving through unfamiliar parts of the city. I was told we were going to get Sabrina’s hair cut…something that sounded incredibly dull to me. Many of us have gone with friends when they get their hair done and we sit, awkwardly reading the random hair magazines placed on the waiting tables, watching and listening to the endless “frrrr”-ing of hairdryers. I was not looking forward to this. All I had on me was my phone, which I’ve become quite bored of.

However, when we arrived, it became clear that apparently I was going to get my hair done, too. They asked if I wanted a haircut and I quickly said no–not that I didn’t trust the skill of these hairdressers, this was a pretty nice salon, but because I was almost certain that no one there had ever cut naturally curly hair before. As you can probably imagine, curly hair and straight hair are completely different to cut and style, and if I was given a haircut that’s intended for those who do not have ringlets, my hair would probably become a Jew-fro of some sort. That said, I protested. And was listened to, thankfully. One guy at the salon spoke English, and offered to wash my hair, which I couldn’t refuse, seeing that I looked pretty crazy. I don’t know why, but this always seems to happen–whenever I see hairdressers, my hair is always at it’s absolute worst. Usually it is extremely tangled, in a ponytail of some sort, has old shampoo and dirt in it and is frizzy. This gives these people the impression that I walk around like this all the time, which I try to avoid. It happens, but it’s not ideal. They always ask me “do you have such-and-such hair product? do you have this? or this?” and usually I do. I actually managed to find a curl cream here which I use on a regular basis and has proved to work quite well…but of course when I went to the salon, I hadn’t used any. I used the “I just got back from a giant mountain range” excuse as to why my hair was dirty, pretending I only washed it once in four days (because when you’re in the mountains, that’s allowed) when in actuality I had washed it two or three times. I just can’t use hotel shampoo. I can never rinse it out. No idea why.

Anyhow, I need to stop rambling and get on with my story! I’m already at over 870 words and I’m not even to the good part !

The guy who spoke English was the one who washed my hair. He was very nice; a little shorter than me with spikey (but not gelled) poofy black hair (although I’m guessing you assumed it was black, since he was Chinese). He had red-rimmed glasses that we a little nerdy and a little fashionable. He wore all black, and his English name was L. He told me that was “because it’s easy”. He reminded me a lot of Ramie, because of his height and mannerisms and voice and personality…I don’t know. He was a pleasant guy.

I must say this: that this hair-washing experience was definately the best of my entire life. It was not your average lie-your-head-back-while-your-neck-hurts-and-the-waters-too-hot-and-getting-on-your-shirt deal, no, this was much much better. I don’t know how they did it, but my chair was incredbily comfortable and even though L told me to completely relax my head and neck, the sink didn’t dig into me at all. I don’t even remember if my neck touched the sink at all…I just remember it was incredibly comfortable. L talked to me the whole time, asking where I was from, why I was here. Everyone in China thinks I’m a college student when I say I’m studying here…he thought I was 18 for the majority of our encounter. He held my head the whole time, and as my hair was being washed, I got a head and ear massage. Also, I got my ears washed and my face washed. I don’t know how the face wash thing worked, I think some machine of some sort went over my eyes and forehead and streamed water down onto it…whatever it was, it felt like a blanket made of flowing water. While my conditioner was sitting, I got arm and hand massages also, which were fabulous. Like…wow. L was amazing ! He asked me if I had a boyfriend, at which point I realized he sort of had been flirting with me this whole time, and I said I had one in America, to which he replied “oh, I guess I don’t have a chance”, followed by nervous laughter when I didn’t say anything “just kidding”. He really didn’t believe I was 15…throughout my whole time at the salon he kept saying “you don’t look fifteen!” He was super nice though…I got my hair done straight. I was offered a straight perm but declined, even though everyone here thinks my hair looks better straight. “Before is….bad.” they say, but I think they’re just jealous none of them have natural curls. L also thought I had a curly perm and didn’t really know what to do with naturally curly hair. I got my bangs trimmed also, which made me glad I didn’t get all my hair cut when the girl made them slightly lopsided..oh well, what can you do? I looked pretty, and kept getting compliments. And that’s all really I could ask for.

Picture of straight hair:

2 thoughts on “Mountains and Turtles and Hair, oh my!”

  1. Miranda –

    I’m really glad that you got a chance to see Jonathan, XiXi, and the kids. It was great to see the pictures – amazing despite the hot ride at Disneyworld crowds. Out here we have fall break – a nice chance to get caught up and enjoy a spell of really nice weather. I’m enjoying your posts even if I’m being a bum and not commenting on them all…

  2. Hi Miranda, I’m writing an article for the Californian Newspaper, and I heard you were spending a semester in China. I posted this as a comment on your original blog post, but I realized you probably don’t look at the comments on that anymore so I posted it up here. Sorry for that mix-up! If you have time it would be great if you could answer a few quick questions for me.
    1. What have you gotten out of your experience in China?
    2. Has your trip been what you expected it to be?
    3. What’s it like being away from home for so long?
    Thank you for your time! Your blog was really interesting by the way!

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