On the west of the province of Thibet lies the province of Caindu, which was formerly governed by kings of its own, but is now ruled by governors appointed by the great khan. By the west, it is not to be understood that these countries are actually in the west; but that, as we travelled to them from those parts which are situate between the east and the north-east, and consequently came thither westwards, we therefore reckon them as being in the west. The people are idolaters and have many cities, of which the principal is called Caindu, after the name of the province, and is built on the frontiers. In this country there is a large salt lake, which produces such extraordinary abundance of white pearls, but not round, that no person is allowed to fish for them under pain of death, without a licence from the great khan, lest by becoming too plentiful, the price should be too much reduced. There is likewise a mountain producing turquoises, the digging for which is restrained under similar regulations. There are great numbers of the animals called gadderi in this province, which produce musk. The lake which produces pearls is likewise very abundant in fish, and the whole country is full of wild beasts of many kinds, as lions, bears, stags, deer, ounces, and roebucks, and many kinds of birds. Cloves also are found in great plenty, which are gathered from small trees, resembling the bay-tree in boughs and leaves, but somewhat longer and straighter, having white flowers. The cloves when ripe are black, or dusky, and very brittle. The country likewise produces ginger and cinnamon in great plenty, and several other spices which are not brought to Europe. It has no wine, but in place of it, the inhabitants make a most excellent drink of corn or rice, flavoured with various spices.
The inhabitants of this country are so besotted to their idols, that they fancy they secure their favour by prostituting their wives, sisters, and daughters to strangers. When any stranger comes among them, all the masters of families strive to procure him as a guest, after which, they leave the stranger to be entertained by the females of the family, and will not return to their own house till after his departure; and all this is done in honour of their idols, thinking that they secure their favour by this strange procedure. The principal money in this country is gold, unstamped, and issued by weight. But their ordinary money consists in solid small loaves of salt, marked with the seal of the prince; and of this merchants make vast profits in remote places, which have abundance of gold and musk, which the inhabitants are eager to barter for salt, to use with their meat.