Pretty in the city: A guide to Hanoi and Bangkok
I am a low maintenance kind of girl most of the time. I would like to be prissier but it takes a lot of time to get your hair and nails done. Fortunately, in South East Asia you can indulge your wildest princess urges without having to max out your credit card or spend every day trotting off to the salon.
In the interests of research (yeah right), I did the following: Hair cut and dye, manicure and pedicure, eyelash extensions and facial. Here are the places I tried:
Linda Nail – 3 Hang Non, Hanoi
If you want a quick and dirty mani/pedi, this place is great. For USD $3 per treatment, they will cram you into a narrow shop filled with the fumes of ten furiously filing manicurists and give you a reasonably decent set of nails in under an hour. They may not be perfectly straight but they’re better than my usual troll claws.
Yves Rocher – 125 Hang Bong St, Hoang Kiem District, Hanoi
I was initially attracted to this shop because it was, a) air-conditioned and because b) my big sister orders Yves Rocher body wash from France and I had never seen a retail shop before.
Upon entering, I decided I never wanted to leave so I booked the longest facial appointment I could get under the auspices of needing to sort out my profusely sweaty pores.
An hour and a half later, having been exfoliated, sand blasted, suctioned and peeled, I drifted downstairs feeling a million bucks. After being charged around AUD $50 for the service, I was dismayed to discover that my skin looked pretty much exactly the same. Still, it was a pleasant experience and I would go back just for the air-con.
Take Care – Shop Sukhumvit 19, Bangkok , www.takecarebeauty.com
Eyelash extensions are a relatively new phenomena but after seeing the radical glamourfying effects on my friends, I had to get me some new lashes. In Australia, this treatment is ultra pricey but in Thailand, it costs around AUD $20.
A very patient therapist spends an hour gluing individual lashes to my real (stumpy) lashes and the result is faaaaahhhhbulous. I am a little bit in love with myself for the next day as I bat my eyelashes flirtatiously at every moving object.
Nghia Tran Salon – 50 Nam Ngu St, Hanoi
Around the corner from the hotel I stayed at in Hanoi (The Mercure), is The Best Hairdresser in the Entire World. His name is Tran and he came 4th in the National L’Oreal Professional Colour Trophy in 2009.
Tran is a perfectionist. I arrive at 6pm on a Saturday night and leave at 9.30pm. He clearly cares so much about what he does. My cut and colour (which also included the most bizarre facial massage and a scalp massage) cost all of 800 VND which is about AUD $40. The same treatment would cost at least $200 in Sydney. Tran is, without doubt, the most talented hairdresser I have ever met and I spend the next day fantasising about how I can smuggle him out to Australia and make him the enormous star he deserves to be.