Hairdresser visits rural villages to give free haircuts

05/08/2021 06:12 PM
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CNA photo May 8, 2021
CNA photo May 8, 2021

Taipei, May 8 (CNA) Taipei-based hairdresser Ivy Chang (張立欣) recently completed one of her twice-a-year trips to two rural villages in Hualien County that can only be reached on foot to provide free services to local residents.

Chang's first appointment during her most recent trip on May 3-4 was booked last year with a farmer surnamed Chen (陳), who said he knew about her the past two years but was too busy with work to get a haircut.

During her stay at Sapah Tadaw Mawna, a bed-and-breakfast located between Dali and Datong villages in Taroko National Park, Chang also applied her skills to the couple that owns the B&B, giving the husband a haircut and dyeing the wife's hair.

The wife, Amay, said she did not have the time to have her hair dyed before Chang came because of her responsibilities at the B&B and the couple's farm.

Hairdresser Ivy Chang (right) dyes Amay
Hairdresser Ivy Chang (right) dyes Amay's hair, with Amay's husband chatting by their side. CNA photo May 8, 2021

Chang said she tries to come visit before the summer, when villagers are busy with work on their farms and tourists, and at the end of the year, so residents can have a fresh look for the new year.

The appointments, Chang said, started three years ago after her first visit to the villages, where over 20 households of Indigenous Trukus live at an altitude of 1,200 meters.

During that first visit, a B&B owner in Datong found out what Chang did for a living and asked her for a haircut that had to be done using normal scissors because Chang did not bring her kit with her.

"All I did was a simple trim and cut, but it made her so happy," Chang said, noting how the B&B owner was excited to show her new look to her family.

One of the villages in the mountains in Hualien County. CNA photo May 8, 2021
One of the villages in the mountains in Hualien County. CNA photo May 8, 2021

When Chang returned a year later, she said she was met with great excitement by the B&B owner, who told the hairdresser that she had been waiting in anticipation for the whole year for another haircut.

Words of the hairdresser's return also attracted other villagers, many of whom let their hair grow because of the lack of hairstyling services near where they live, Chang said.

Although the villages are just 10 kilometers away from the nearest town, one has to climb two hours to reach Dali and another two hours to get to Datong, Chang said.

Most of the villages' supplies are carried in by residents on foot because there are no roads connected to the two villages, where the local residents get their electricity from generators and solar panels.

CNA photo May 8, 2021
CNA photo May 8, 2021

Chang said she had invited other hairdressers to join her, but she ended up making the trip on her own because they were all deterred by the climb to the villages.

The hairdresser said making the visits and seeing the villagers' joy after getting fresh looks gave her renewed energy after working in the business for over 30 years.

"I enjoy hiking, and giving a haircut is what I can do. It's relaxing to cut hair in the mountains. As long as I can hike, I'll keep coming back to do it," Chang said.

(By Chang Chi and Kay Liu)

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