The reason that the Chinese allow them to hold such an extent of fertile land is because the low plains are considered unhealthy and the Chinese cannot, or will not, live there. Whether or not the malarial fever of the valleys is so exceedingly deadly remains to be proved, but the Chinese believe it to be so and the result is the same. Where the Shans are numerous enough to have a chief of their own they live in a semi-independent state, for although their head man is subordinate to the district Chinese official, the latter seldom interferes with the internal affairs of the tribe.
The Shans are a short, strongly-built race with a distinct Mongolian type of features and rather fair complexions. Their dress varies decidedly with the region, but the men of the southern part of the province on the Nam-ting River wear a pair of enormous trousers, so baggy that they are almost skirtlike, a white jacket, and a large white or pink turban surmounted by a huge straw hat. The women dress in a white jacket and skirt of either striped or dark blue cloth; their turbans are of similar material and may be worn in a high cylinder, a low oval, or many other shapes according to the particular part of the province in which they live.
PRISONERS OF WAR IN BURMA
The camp at Nam-ka was a supremely happy one and we left it on March 7, with much regret. Its resources seemed to be almost exhausted and the Mohammedan hunter assured us that at a village called Ma-li-ling we would find excellent shooting. We asked him the distance and he replied, “About a long bamboo joint away.” It required three days to get there!
Whether the man had ever been to Ma-li-ling we do not know but we eventually found it to be a tiny village built into the side of a hill in an absolutely barren country where there was not a vestige of cover. Our journey there was not uneventful. We left Nam-ka with high hopes which were somewhat dampened after a day’s unsuccessful hunting at the spot where our caravan crossed the Nam-ting River.
With a Shan guide we traveled due north along a good trail which led through dense jungle where there was not a clearing or a sign of life. In the afternoon we noted that the trail bore strongly to the west and ascended rapidly. Soon we had left the jungle and emerged into an absolutely treeless valley between high barren hills. We knew that the Burma frontier could not be far away, and in a few moments we passed a large square “boundary stone”; a hundred yards on the other side the hills were covered with bright green stalks and here and there a field glistened with white poppy blossoms. The guide insisted that we were on the direct road to Ma-li-ling which for the first time he said was in Burma. On our map it was marked well over the border in Chinese territory and we were greatly puzzled.