The Hot Toc

The hot toc, or barber shop, is an institution in Vietnam. Wherever you go in Vietnam, guys seem to love getting their hair cut. It's one of those "guy" things to do – it's recreational, it's good company, and they seem to eat up all the attention that they get. More often than not, they fall asleep in the chair.

The hot toc is a bit more than a barber shop – it's a full-service institution. At no extra charge, the barber takes a close look to make sure that the rest of your head is as it should be. He has the eyes of a surgeon and the tools to match. And in a pinch, he can administer some traditional medicine, if no one else on the street can do it for you.

In the city, the barber shop is outdoors, against a building wall. The mirror hangs by a nail, and everything is done in the open. In the towns, the shop is a small shack. Guys hang around there, usually shirtless, spending the entire afternoon exchanging news and views. It's the hot toc of the town.


Click for a larger version In Hanoi's old quarter

I thought to enhance the picture by having the light come out the other ear.

Click for a larger version In the country

Interesting, the sign offers "Ep" or a permanent. "Ep" means "to press", and is also used to describe printing. The Chinese character for "press" looks like "Ep", though of course, it's not a spelling. Maybe someone saw it and assumed it was a word. Or, alternately, it's an incredible coincidence. They've been known to happen.

Click for a larger version A wall of barbers in Cho Lon, Saigon's Chinatown
Click for a larger version Definitely more than a haircut

It's a happening.

Click for a larger version Steady concentration
Click for a larger version Super service
Click for a larger version A natural rinse?
Click for a larger version Sleeping beauty