Doug Learns A New Trade

At our first stop, Taipei, Taiwan, we stayed at the Amigo hostel – which turned out to be quite a good place for meeting and chatting with other travelers.  Kumiko and I had met two girls on the ship from Ishigaki – one was Japanese, touring Taiwan for three weeks – the other was from Australia and was on a short trip just to get out of Japan so she could re-enter and get another 90-day visa.  She was dating a Japanese man and had been living in Japan for three years – departing and returning every 90 days.

She did whatever work she could find in Japan – sometimes legally, sometimes not so legal – most recently it was chopping sugar cane (which she said was really hard work).

There were also two guys staying at the hostel – one Japanese, the other British.  Both were street performers and had been there for about three months, performing daily.  One evening as we were all lounging in the TV room, Chris (the Brit) told Shani (the Australian) that he would teach her how to do hair-wrapping.  She was keen to learn because he had told her that it was a great way to earn money as you travel.  You just find a spot on a busy sidewalk somewhere, put out a sign, and wrap hair all day.

Since I love to brush, braid, and generally play with women's hair anyway, I was instantly intrigued and went over to watch as well.  It seemed easy enough at the time and Shani started practicing the next day (by tying it to her leg and wrapping around string instead of hair).  It was almost a month before I found the time to try it.  Being eager to do it for real, I simply skipped the practice sessions and started right in on a live victim, er, uh... subject: Kumiko.  My first effort turned out not too bad, if I say so myself.  See for yourself...

Since then I have done several others – two more in Kumiko's hair and three attached to hair ties to wear with a ponytail.  I've even adapted the process to making tassels for the zippers on my jacket and backpacks (top photo).  One of the hair-tie versions was for me, the other two were gifts for girls we have met along the way.  Some of the designs I've come up with so far have been pretty good – others were rather disappointing.  But that's part of the learning process.  I don't think I'll ever do it to earn money – for one thing it takes me too long – but it's a fun skill to have if for no other reason than for gifts.  Here are some of the others I've done that I think turned out well...