Misadventures in Huangshan

The English language, fast wifi, and my bed are easily the 3 things I miss the most right now. Numbers 4 and 5 are my iMac and Netflix. Today (July 29) was a travel day from Beijing to Huangshan so nothing very interesting happened. I sat on a bullet train for 6 hours, slept, and edited photos from the Great Wall to post later. The most interesting thing that happened was on the train when I pointed at a prepackaged meal, having no idea what it was, and eating it. It wasn't bad. 

A piece of art on a concrete wall. I think someone made a fire beneath at some point.

When I arrived in Huangshan I found out that I booked my Airbnb next to the wrong train station, so I had to take a taxi. Naturally, my taxi driver didn't speak a lick of English. I however can now say "hello, thank you, and good bye" in Chinese, so the playing field was pretty even. Pointing to things was useless. I had directions on my phone, pictures of the route, the physical address and still there was confusion. Face palm. Finally found the number of the Airbnb host who talked to him. Magically everything was fine then. So confused. 

Honestly I have no idea why I'm here. This looks nothing like the pictures of Huangshan I found online during my research. I was looking for a rural area with majestic Avatar style mountains where I could relax and fly my drone with ease. Right now I'm currently surrounded by tall buildings, loads of cars, and distant but very average mountains. 

Nothing can ruin your mood faster than having expectations not meet your reality. Trust me when I say I've learned this the hard way. When entering Beijing, my only expectations were to have a place to stay, take cool photos, and see the city. Yeah my hostel was in a weird and slightly sketchy part of town, but that didn't matter because I hadn't expected to be in a 5 star hotel. I'm usually pretty good at managing this and going with the flow but I really had hoped for a quaint little town in the countryside near beautiful mountains, outside of Shanghai. I never thought I would be so upset over a place being too nice. 

Exhausted from the train ride, the taxi incident, and being disappointed, I took a nap to gain some energy back. When I woke up, I walked toward the spot with the brightest lights and found a massive 5 story mall. Looked around each floor until I stopped at a place called Cheese Pub. Yeah, pretty weird. But the atmosphere was nice and the menu had a lot of baked cheesy items like pizza and pasta. I was tempted to get the banana pizza, but instead chose the a baked chicken and cheese dish. On the plus side, I later found out that the floors above the mall were still being constructed so I snuck in and took a few pics.

The next day I literally did nothing. The first thing I did was pick a direction and walk until I found something cool. I probably walked for a solid half hour and found nothing but dirty streets, people burning trash, and run down homes. So I turned around and walked in another direction. Nothing. No interesting shops, markets, street vendors, museums, restaurants. Nothing but that stupid mall and hotels. All I was really looking for was a place to eat and read my book. Nothing special. I settled for the mall and went to a place called "Big Hamburg." One thing America has truly perfected is the hamburger. My entire burger was wet, bread, tomatoes, meat, everything. I had wifi though and was in a public place relaxing so things weren't too bad. Then a baby started scream crying. Instantly through in the towel and went back to my lodgings. 

I began doing research to leave this place. The Huangshan Mountain, where I had wanted to go all along, was an hour and a half away from where I was staying. Busses, trains, and subways were all nonexistent here so I decided I had to take a taxi. I researched the hike up the mountain and if there were places to stay in that area. By this time, it was too late to leave so I decided to stay the night and leave on the morning.