The first lessons in Chinese travel that Mike learned were that things often don’t go as planned, that there often is no way to fix a situation, and that in such circumstances you just need to endure whatever is happening and get through it. Those lessons are summed up in two short but powerful Chinese phrases:
- “Mei Banfa,” which means “No way out.”
- “Chi Ku,” which means “Eat bitterness.”
For fun one day, in the middle of one of these situations, Mike and I started singing these to phrases in a Chinese version of The Lion King’s “Hakuna Matata” lyrics. It became an anthem of sorts that helped us relieve pressure in tense situations.
One of those potentially tense situations was when our train from Nanjing to Huangshan was delayed indeterminately ”晚点未定“. It ended up being five hours late (the first time I ever had a late train in China), which meant that we arrived in Huangshan station at 2:00 a.m. with no idea where to go and everything closed. Taxi drivers, who marked us as foreigners, were being unreasonable about their prices, and after waving away three gougers, we found one who was ok with just using the normal meter. He took us to a couple of closed hostels until we found one with a sleeping desk attendant and a vacancy. The fun part is that even though it was a little stressful, we kept our cool and had fun throughout the experience, singing “Mei Banfa. Chi Ku.”