A British Barber in Taiwan

Taiwan has attracted foreign talent for decades, but to our knowledge Daniel Bullivant is one of a select few Englishmen to make his name as British Barber for Gentlemen in Taiwan. Though he came here six years ago to travel, fate had other plans.

After meeting his wife in Hualien, Daniel opened up a barber shop in the charming east coast city. In the process, he’s created a most unique experience for himself and thousands of satisfied customers.

Taiwan Scene sat down with Daniel for a chat about his Taiwan experience.

On why he chose Hualien:

Hualien was just on my list as a tourist, as a place to visit in Taiwan. So my friend lent me his bicycle and I cycled over Hehuan (mountain) to Hualien, and it was here that I met my wife and settled down.

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On the pros and cons of working in Taiwan:

On the plus side, it’s great to be able to meet the local people and make friends here, to interact with people living in Hualien and all around Taiwan. I guess the major con is that I am actually too busy to enjoy Taiwan. I don’t get as much time as I’d like to go hiking and camping, which are two of my passions.

On the early days of his business:

At first, it was tough. I’d just opened the shop, people were just passing by and I think people just sort of found me. They passed by, saw the shop was new, came in. Of course, when they saw it was foreign barber, they were pretty shocked. It not easy thing to trust someone to cut your hair, especially they don’t speak the same language, and not from the same country. So it was really difficult in the beginning. But then slowly, slowly I built my reputation through word of mouth and I started getting really busy. Then a local blogger called Jumpman (跳躍的宅男) wrote about my shop, and since then business has been non-stop.

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On how working in Taiwan has changed his aesthetic with regards to hairstyle:

Asian hair is completely different to Western hair. So that changes the way I cut and style. But it’s been a positive thing for me, because after cutting hair in England for 10 years it’s given me a chance to advance my skills and learn new things. My style has become something a fusion between an English and Taiwanese style.

On how many haircuts he’s given in Taiwan:

I couldn’t even begin to count! Thousands!

On how Taiwanese barbershop culture differs from that in England:

Well, of course the way that people speak and behave are different, which creates a different sort of atmosphere. I think Taiwanese people are very open, very friendly. They are not too shy. I think they are really great people to work with. My shop has become a very special blend between the two cultures.

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On what he misses about living in the UK:
Probably the weather. I like the seasons, which are different in Taiwan. I miss my friends back home, of course, but that’s kind of a good thing because every time I go back I appreciate it all the more. I think this is one of the benefits of living away from home. When I return to the UK I really make the most of my time there.

On what places in Taiwan he likes best:

So far I really like the Jade mountain hiking trail (Yushan National Park) , that’s really good. And I also love the hot springs in Taiwan. I think after a hard day’s work (or long trek) you can relax in the hot springs, it’s really amazing.

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On what makes Taiwan a great place to live and visit:

For me, Taiwan has got the best of everything. It got the beaches, got the mountains, got the rivers, got the hot springs, got the food. You have friendly people. You’ve got the culture, temples. And there’s always a surprise here. No matter how long you stay here, there’s always more to experience. Taiwan has got the best of the world in one little place.

On how he would market Taiwan if he were made Minister of Tourism:

I would probably market Taiwan as a Jigsaw puzzle, by which I mean it has many pieces but you need to put them together. So you come here, you can tailor-make you own trip from all the things you like. I’d just promote all the gems in Taiwan, all the special places, and how to link them up to have a great travel trip.

On his recommendation for travelers coming to Taiwan:  
Well, of course you’re going to want to spend time looking around Taipei. Then I suggest coming straight down to Hualien, maybe renting bicycles and taking  a three-day bike trip along the east coast down to Taitung. It’s a really lovely cycling area. If you’ve got more time, I recommend Jialeshui, Kenting and Hengchun in Pingtung county. But if I had to boil it down to just three spots, I’d say Taipei, Hualien and Taitung.

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More information about Cutting Edge Barber Shop:

Daniel Bullivant’s original shop, Cutting Edge is located in Hualien. Click here for address, hours & more information.

In February of 2017, Daniel opened up his second Taiwan shop, the Craftsmanship Barber Shop in Taipei.  Click here for address, hours & more information.

Looking to trek through the awe-inspiring Jade Mountain National Park by day and soak in a natural mountaintop hot spring by night? Let MyTaiwanTour guide your way on our Formosan Bear Country Day Trek and Hot Spring Tour.

Read also: In search of the elusive Formosan black bear
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