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Debuting a fro in Bangkok, Thailand

Avatar • Jul 15, 2011


By Charish (pictured above) of Le Salon Des Naturelles

That’s me writing this blog. In my fro. You all have seen it, no big deal. Here in Bangkok, even with their progressive fashion sense, it is a HUGE deal.

So Monday, I stepped out on the street in a gray pencil skirt, blue blouse and cream colored pumps. There was never a hotter English teacher in all of Thailand.

And the people knew it.

The Thai teachers were amazed. The kids were enthralled. The two sisters, who own the restaurant I go to, gave me a thumbs up! Of course, there were blank stares. Those I expected immediately.

Teacha! Teacha!” screamed a group of girls.
“Yes?”
“You are BEAUTIFUL!” They all ran around, arms circled above their head, giggling like mad. There is the occasionally pointing and staring, there are giggles, but I say it all beats having to straighten my hair obsessively for the next four months.

I couldn’t believe how big an issue hair would be before I came over here. To tell the truth I feel like I did very little to prepare for this trip, hair was probably the last thing on my mind. Friends and family did ask me what I would do about the it.

Leave it as is, I guess. I don’t know.

However, when I got here, I chickened out. I wore it in a bun, a ponytail, and then I started to straighten it. A hot press job takes a good hour to complete on a good day. On a bad day, (going from an afro to straight locks) maybe two hours.

I don’t have that kind of time! I can’t possibly wake up earlier than I already do just to fry my hair! Only for it to frizz up in this wet and humid weather anyway. For that reason, there was no way I could keep it up.

Another reason was the enthusiasm my co-worker Ploy had for my straight do as opposed to other days. “Ahh Charish, your hair look beautiful! Wear it like that all the time, yeah?” Or whenever we had a meet and greet with school officials. “Look beautiful tomorrow, yeah?”

uh… no.

Never been too fond of people telling me how to look. I broke down and combed it out. The first afro outside of the house was to a bar. At this particular bar, women, who I believe were prostitutes, swarmed me immediately. The “madam” asked me if it was real. Sure it was, who would willingly fake this? About ten hookers began patting my hair.
“Oooh… aaah!”

Interesting first.

Just today, the third day of the fro, a student asked if I got it at Khaosan Rd. I was puzzled. Got what? My hair? I tugged at it and told her. This is mine. I didn’t get it anyhere. My student was amazed.
“You grow?”
I nodded.
“WOW!”

Yeah, well. The fro is not going anywhere. I think it’s going to be a staple.

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Miss Amma
Miss Amma
9 years ago

I love this story! I think its cute to see how excited and curious are about our hair! I think its awesome and we should totally embrace it! Great article.

Miss Amma
Miss Amma
9 years ago
Reply to  Miss Amma

*people*

Memei
Memei
9 years ago

Love this story, made me smile. hahah. sounds like a positive reaction alright, so amazing how people can be fascinated by hair. and your fro is lovely xxxx want to go Thailand now.

jagger
jagger
9 years ago

This just totally put a huge smile on my face. The reaction of your school children…oh so cute. I just love hearing and reading stories about people of color traveling to, living and having positive experiences in places where we’re never expected to be.

Monique
9 years ago

Kudos to you to just letting your hair be in a foreign country. I’m also really glad your there experiencing a new culture. In Colombia, S.A. a woman told me that African hair is good luck and asked me to give her one lock…I declined.

natural nubian
natural nubian
9 years ago

this is amazing and really nice to read. i visited seoul, s.korea a few years ago and i remember the korean’s fasciantion with my ‘fro. the kids could not stop giggling. i realized the depth we are falsly represented internationally by the media.

do you have a blog/website we could follow??

Charish
9 years ago
Reply to  natural nubian

Yes, please feel free to read up on my past adventures in Thailand and new natural hair adventures co-starring my good friend Evelyn. We’re over at le salon de naturelles:
salonnaturelles.blogspot.com

Tiffany
Tiffany
9 years ago
Reply to  Charish

Hello Charish, Love the fro!!! I just moved to thailand end of May 2011 due to my husband’s job. This is my first time living overseas and I have long, thick locs!! The humidity makes them so uncomfortable and I have not done a really good job of taking care of them since arriving (I really miss my hairdresser). I’m ready to cut them off and for the first time in my life, wiling to sport a grace jones look or extensions until I get some length again for a fro. Do you know of any good natural hairstylists or anyone that… Read more »

Curly Film Chick
9 years ago

This was a great article. I love the story. People’s reactions are always so interesting and make me realize more and more how our hair is still a statement.

Angie
Angie
9 years ago

What an amazing story! I loved it!

Benita
Benita
9 years ago

SWEET!!!
I love the whole perspective from someone in other countries!
How do you like being an English Teacher there?
How do you get your hair supplies?

Charish
9 years ago
Reply to  Benita

I loved the experience, teaching was difficult but an amazing challenge. All my hair stuff, I brought it over with me for the whole six months. AHHH!! That was nutty. Try finding underarm deodorant that isn’t skin lightening in Asia!

Adriii
Adriii
9 years ago
Reply to  Benita

When I visited Thailand I found a beauty supply store down the street from my hotel and bought this berry conditioner that turned out to be amazing!!!! I would just co-wash with that and add a little conditioner and the gel I bought.

TSA restrictions make it hard to travel with your products, nowadays. But teaches you to be less dependent on others when it comes to your hair. In India, I already know: grocery store and a bottle of coconut oil should get me through.

Adriii
Adriii
9 years ago
Reply to  Benita

I am amazed that you were able to wear your hair straight at all. (You must have some excellent flat iron skills!) I had to put the afro away after the first couple days because the heat was killing me, and still sweat like crazy with just a braid down my back. I felt the need to wash my hair every single day (I was there Feb/March)!!

Charish
9 years ago
Reply to  Adriii

I’m so excited to know that black women were in Thailand! Here I thought I was the only one! I’m so glad that sistas are goin to Asia and experiencing an awesome new world.

Adriii
Adriii
9 years ago
Reply to  Charish

yES! On my trip there was a trio of black women in their 40s who travel the world calling themselves the “Traveling Babes” and a black couple from VA. We’re out and about. Whatchoutnow!

Air-drying in a tuk-tuk:
[img]http://bglhonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/tuk‑1.jpg[/img]

Adriii
Adriii
9 years ago
Reply to  Adriii

(actually two black couples)

Charish
9 years ago
Reply to  Adriii

I love that picture tuk tuk!

Adriii
Adriii
9 years ago
Reply to  Charish

I got curious and looked up afros in Thailand and randomly found an African and African-Caribbean dance class in Bangkok: http://www.rumpuree.com/dsp_dance.cfm?danceid=2&lang=eng.

Tres tres cool!

WinnieMae
WinnieMae
9 years ago

Lol! I love the part when the kids were imitating your fro with their arms. So cute!! And the bar trip! Classic! Lovely story!! I wish I could visit Thailand…or anywhere outside the states for that matter. Anywho, I love your fro! It fits you very well! 🙂

Diane
9 years ago

Thanks for sharing this with us! It was inspiring!

Sieta
9 years ago

I love it and I love all the positive reactions =) so sweet.

And people are so fascinated by our hair!

Keep the fro girl, keep it going because it’s beautiful!

elisha
elisha
9 years ago

Kudos to you! Love the fro and you’re gorgeous!

Priscilla
Priscilla
9 years ago

rock it girl! it looks great 🙂 show em what God gave you!!

yoli
9 years ago

I love your writing style, very witty and cute story! Fab hair 🙂

Polly
Polly
9 years ago

Lol this was funny. I really liked the easy anecdotes she told.

LaSheena
LaSheena
9 years ago

I love this story!

Charish
9 years ago

Thank you Ladies and thank you BGLH for featuring my story!

If you ever want to read more about Thailand and a black chick’s travels there

OR, you want to read about my present adventures in natural hair with my friend Evelyn

Just visit our website “le salon des naturelles”
salonnaturelles.blogspot.com
[img]http://bglhonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/flavicon for blog2.jpg[/img]

What?
What?
9 years ago
Reply to  Charish

The story is nice…but why on earth would you ask “who would willingly fake this?” Is it a tongue-in-cheek joke?

Charish
9 years ago
Reply to  What?

Yes, I suppose I see where you’d be a little irked by that language. The whole experience of letting go, was very unnerving to me at the time. I think what I meant by that statement was “Who would go out and about with an afro in a foreign land without thinking of all of the social stressors first.” It takes a lot of nerve to be true to yourself when you have a lot of things working against you. For my students treat it lightly and say that it’s as easy as buying a wig down the street made me… Read more »

Candi
9 years ago

Such a refreshing and fun story…thanks for sharing your hair experiences in Thailand!!

FLHoneybee
FLHoneybee
9 years ago

Hi Charish: This is a good story and really made me reflect on how I deal with the excitement/curiosity regarding my skin and hair. It is kinda strange how blacks are perceived or maybe even not well known (meaning other cultures seem to be totally oblivious and have no knowledge of the variances of blacks). It is like they think blacks are from another planet:dont have skin, blood–it is odd. Obviously, asian culture is quite homogeneous but still—I am always amazed at the questions and curiousity. I am also frightened because the reality is a lot of black representation in the news… Read more »

Sue
Sue
9 years ago
Reply to  FLHoneybee

I think the brillo pad might come from the portrayal of kinky hair as hard, difficult to manage.

Charish
9 years ago
Reply to  FLHoneybee

I still know the frustration that takes place in the states. And it’s usually from whites who are “curious.” I never appreciated the brillo pad comment. As far as getting jobs in Asia, I was fairly lucky. In college, I had a professor that specialized in importing and exporting exchange students and he had a good relationship with the director of these Thai schools. So you could say I got the hook up. But from what I’m hearing in other comments, other blacks are doing it. You can do it to. All I had was a degree in English and… Read more »

Alisha
9 years ago

I love this post! Last year I traveled to several cities in China and although Hong Kong was pretty diverse, I didn’t realize how much I took diversity for granted until we went to Beijing and Shanghai. You wouldn’t believe how excited I was when I saw another black person in a neighboring taxi! In general people were nice — though there were a lot of stares. I would have been upset if people just started touching my hair — like the hookers did to you. But I do remember being on a tour and having some locals ask my… Read more »

Sue
Sue
9 years ago
Reply to  Alisha

I also went to Beijing about 2 years ago but unlike you I was not part of a tour. There were lots of stares and some people actually came up and asked to take my picture in Mandarin…which I don’t speak. And then they went ahead and just took the photo. I decided not to let it bother me too much and enjoyed the trip.

We often take diverity for granted, I was also pretty excited when I saw another black person in a bus!

Serenity23
9 years ago

This was a great story and made me smile. I will definitely check out your blog.

trackback

[…] Black Girl With Long Hair hosted a great post by Cherise about debuting her afro in Thailand.  The person that asked her if she bought it somewhere made me chuckle. […]

GirlPuh-leeze!
GirlPuh-leeze!
9 years ago

Teacha! Teacha!”…Girl, I love your post 🙂 Most Asians, I find, LOVE natural hair. Even at the beauty supply they compliment natural hair. I would love to get to Thailand one day. I could only imagine what the food and shopping are like.

luvmylocs
luvmylocs
9 years ago

great story!! your hair is stunning!

Tai
Tai
9 years ago

That was such an awesome story! So cute! It really made my day. I’ve always wanted to teach overseas in Asia and this is really encouraging to me!

Patricia Kayden
Patricia Kayden
9 years ago

Cute story. Her fro looks fierce.

Ladybug
Ladybug
9 years ago

This is something I’ve often thought about, and I really liked this story :). I want to teach English abroad as well. What program did you go through, if you don’t mind my asking?

Robin Nicole
9 years ago

Lol this totally made my evening! =)

foxyr
foxyr
9 years ago

What a cute story! Girl, don’t be afraid to rock your crown! I’m glad you felt free to rock your afro, without any serious drama!

mysskay
mysskay
9 years ago

I loved this story! And your hair is beautiful. Going to visit your website now 🙂

Robyn
Robyn
9 years ago

You go lady! You and your hair are beautiful!!!

Leonie UK
Leonie UK
9 years ago

My hair in Thailand got the most love EVER. I got my hair cainrowed on Khosan Road and got offered an afro weave too lol. Funny how African’s buy hair from Asian’s but when in Asia, Asian’s are amazed by our hair, skin and everythig that is pure African in us.

PS Stay away from those insects treats

Leslie@ The tale of going natural

Awesome story and amazing fro!

Ashley
9 years ago

OMG! ok, so my dream job is TESOL and i wanna move either to Japan or S.Korea so bad and before i went natural, my biggest fear was, how i was going to get relaxers across the world because of COURSE they wouldn’t have any of that over there. Now that i’m natural of course i won’t have that problem, and u’ve given me hope about their attitude towards our texture of hair. One question though, do they have good natural moisturizing hair products? or do u have to ship products from the states?

Rochelle
Rochelle
9 years ago

This is so great! I am going to Seoul, South Korea in less than four weeks to teach English! I am a new natural and I am not sure what to do with my hair or what products to take. I am glad to see another black English teacher in the region.

Amanda
9 years ago

I can totally related. I had a very similar experience in Bangkok in 2009. It was very off putting at 1st esp. when I saw some many Thai people teasing and perming their hair to make it look like a fro.

Thanks for sharing!

Nichalin
Nichalin
9 years ago

Hi Charish,

I am a black girl just like you with the same curly hair.
Since two weeks I have been living in Bangkok. Do you by any means know a “black” hairdresser or somebody who can clip my ends?

Thank you so much.

Kind regards,

Charish
9 years ago
Reply to  Nichalin

Ahh, that’s a good question. It’s been a year since I was there and unfortunately while I was there, I didn’t go to a hairsalon. There are millions of them, all over the place, but I didn’t trust any of them to work on black hair. Fret not, trimming your ends is something you are more than capable of doing yourself. Get yourself a good pair of hair shears and clip while your hair is dry. Whenever I clip my ends, I wait until I’ve two-strand twisted my hair, then clip less than a half inch off each twist. But there are… Read more »

Nichalin
Nichalin
9 years ago

Hi Charish,

Thank you so much for your advice. I will be checking you tube videos on clipping my ends for sure.
My boyfriends work brought us from the Netherlands to Bangkok. Luckily I found a job as well. I am goning to work for an advisory/accounting firm.

If you were still here we probably could have met in person:-) but good for you that you are enjoying your home again.

Sonia
Sonia
9 years ago

Hi Charish,
i loooooove your story so much, was actually just googling for black salons in Bangkok but got this and am glad i did. i live in Pathum Thani and there are barely blacks here. when i was coming to Thailand i thought hair wouldn’t be an issue but wow! it so is. i wanted to plait my hair but i think i should stick to my afro too… thank you!!!!

Craig
Craig
9 years ago

Hey

Great article.

Out of interest on your travels in Thailand, have you seen any barbers for that will cater for mens afro hair (now who’s vain!).

Heading over for 5 months in december, cant bear the thought of shaving my head without it being lined up!!

Thanks

Craig

Charish
9 years ago
Reply to  Craig

No way, nothing vain about it at all. If you’re used to certain amenities that America offers, it can really throw you off when you go else where. I have to be honest with you, Craig, I didn’t see any evidence of barbers that catered to afro hair. But that’s not to say they are actually out there. There is a sizable African population in Bangkok (mostly the Sukhumvit area), but I never knew how they lived unfortunately. There are millions of salons all over the city, but how many of them do black hair? I did find this place on-line.… Read more »

Tiffany
Tiffany
9 years ago
Reply to  Craig

Unfortunately, AJ closed in June. The owners relocated to China 🙁

halflang kapsels
9 years ago

You actually make it appear so easy together with your presentation however I to find this topic to be really one thing that I believe I might never understand. It kind of feels too complex and very large for me. I am having a look forward for your subsequent post, I?ll attempt to get the grasp of it!

Charish
9 years ago

No worries! It can be a complicated topic for other cultures to grasp, but my friend and I do write about it in our blog salonnaturelles.blogspot.com
Hopefully if you read more, you’ll discover some interesting things you didn’t know about black hair.
Cheers, mijn vriend!

Jane Brogglin
8 years ago

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Nicole
Nicole
8 years ago

Wow! I am here in Bangkok now. I just moved here 3 days ago. I wear my hair relaxed and managed to bring over about 5 relaxers. However, it’s pointless to do anything with my hair besides a bun due to the weather. Your article is very inspiring considering that I am thinking of going natural.

Nicole
Nicole
8 years ago

Awesome!

Charish
8 years ago

Hey Nicole, first off, congrats on being in Bangkok! What brought you there? I hope your hair journey isn’t fraught with too many obstacles. The humidity and monsoon rain should be enough!

Nicole
Nicole
8 years ago
Reply to  Charish

Well my husband’s job (oil field) bought us here. We will be here for 3 years. I have a relaxer in my hair now. I just (a few minutes ago) decided to wash, dry, and flat iron it. I did 1/4 and looked at the drizzle outside and thought “why am I wasting my time with this?” So I just wet it, moisturized it, and slicked it into a lose bun. Do you know of any places here where I can get a decent haircut? (or even a trim) I really am considering going natural

Charish
8 years ago
Reply to  Nicole

I’ve been asked that, but I’m still stumped. While I was there, I didn’t see or meet anyone that did black hair. There are thousands of hair salons but I don’t any specialized ones. So you might have to turn to a million YouTube videos. That’s how I learned. Three years? That’s an awesome commitment! Best of luck to you and your husband. Enjoy your time there, it will be epic!

Mary-Lee
Mary-Lee
6 years ago
Reply to  Nicole

Hello Nicole,
‚How are you. I just moved here 2 weeks ago, want to ask if you have found any place for relaxing. At the same time looking for friends. Please let me know if you would be keen to meet for coffee. Have asked another lady here by the name of Zewel she just recently arrived.
Thank you
Mary-Lee

Nicole
Nicole
8 years ago

Thank you so much. Thank God for You tube. 🙂

Midodzi Tay
Midodzi Tay
8 years ago

Good day Charish, I hope things have settled down, at least where the management of your fro is concerned. I am afraid I read your blog just this afternoon (just over a year late), as I am in Bangkok for the weekend, and was hoping against hope to get a trim or get something done to my hair. Your blog got me in stitches, i could not contain the laughter roaring out of me. People around me looked at me with the ‘arh! wha wrang wit u” look. I walked into a couple of hair dessing shops while researching where… Read more »

Midodzi Tay
Midodzi Tay
8 years ago

Good day Charish, I hope things have settled down, at least where the management of your fro is concerned. I am afraid I read your blog just this afternoon (just over a year late), as I am in Bangkok for the weekend, and was hoping against hope to get a trim or get something done to my hair. Your blog got me in stitches, i could not contain the laughter roaring out of me. People around me looked at me with the ‘arh! wha wrang wit u” look. I walked into a couple of hair dessing salons while researching where… Read more »

Charish
8 years ago
Reply to  Midodzi Tay

HAHA! I’m glad you got a kick out of it. Ah, to say, “I am in Bangkok for the weekend.” I miss the tremendously, I was there in 2009 and I’ve missed it ever since. I hope to go back one day. When I do, I think I will be a little more prepared in the hair department. You can’t go wrong with watching YouTube videos. I do feel like I’m beating a dead horse on this, but it’s true. Keep your fro high!

Aims
Aims
8 years ago

Looking for a beauty supply store that sells African American hair products…am I doing this in vain?

Charish
8 years ago

I hate to say it, but I think you might be. Instead, try looking for Indian grocery stores that specialize in coconut or neem oil. Those are great healthy alternatives. GOOD LUCK and a have a fantastic time!

zewel
zewel
7 years ago

Hi charish,

I just moved to bangkok 3 weeks ago and i have my hair natural but given the nature of my job and the humidity (my god the humidity!) its very difficult to wear my hair natural. I barely have time to do it every morning. So my question is, do you know of any hair salon that cater to black hair? I want to get my hair braided in extensions.That will be the ultimate. Please let me know you thoughts on this. I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you!

Mary-Lee
Mary-Lee
6 years ago
Reply to  zewel

Hello Zewel,
How are you. I just moved here 2 weeks ago, want to ask if you found any place for relaxing. At the same time looking for friends. Please let me know if you would be keen to meet for coffee.
Thank you
Mary-Lee

David
David
7 years ago

Simple question: where on earth can i find a pick(fork) in bangkok? been here 2 years now and still haven’t seen one pick. bah humbug!!!

k
k
7 years ago

Hey so can i ask is it that sticky & humid straightening is a waste of time anyway, because the kink comes back with the moisture in the air? I guess only hope is too go for a few braids in 1 side from the African ladies on the beach & slap it down with soft n free.. I know loads of ppl who relax there own hair..Always had mine done professionally tho & for 17yrs my hair has been in good condition. Even if i go for curls i relax it, a soft wave is better. Its good Just to ease… Read more »

boikhutso
boikhutso
6 years ago

which beach are you referring to?i have been here two months now and since then i took the fro down so now its been a bad hair month for me.However i can do hair i just need to know where i can find braiding hair to make twist.

Aisha
Aisha
6 years ago

Hi Charish,
Your ‘fro is fabulous?

I have an off-topic question: what company do you teach with/for? I have been researching teach abroad companies, but it is difficult to decipher which ones are legitimate.

Thank you!

Aisha
Aisha
6 years ago
Reply to  Aisha

Correction: *Fabulous!

Charish
6 years ago
Reply to  Aisha

Aisha,
Thank you! I got involved with ESL teaching through a former professor of mine. He is friends with the director of the school I taught at and that was pretty much it, I’m afraid. The school is called Charansanitwong School of Business. It’s located in Bangkok and I know the director still uses American teachers, but I don’t know how she acquires them.

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Janelle
Janelle
5 years ago

LOL this is exactly how it is. I’m in Thailand now and I have 2 plats in the front and a fro!. What’s a girl to do! Oh well maybe it will grow faster without the heat.

ishath015
ishath015
4 years ago

I went through the same thing, then I came across others with my struggle. Anyhow for anyone else, you can get your hair done with Black Hair Bangkok

http://blackhairbangkok.weebly.com/contact-booking.html

https://www.facebook.com/blackhairbangkok/

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