TALI-FU TO THE MEKONG VALLEY
Stages to the Mekong Valley. Hardest part of the walking tour. Author as a medical man. Sunday soliloquy. How adversity is met. Chinese life compared with early European ages. Womens enthusiasm over the European. A good send-off. My coolie Shanks, the songster. Laughter for tears. Pony commits suicide. Houses in the forest district. Little encampments among the hills, and the way the people pass their time. Treacherous travel. To Hwan-lien-p’u. Rest by the river, and a description of my companions. How my men treated the telegraph. Universal lack of privacy. Complaints of the carrying coolies.
From whichever standpoint you regard the cities and villages of Western China, the views are full of interest. Each forms a new picture of rock, river, wood and temple, crenellated wall, and uplifted roof, crowded with bewildering detail.
I am not the first traveler who has remarked this. Several of Mr. Archibald Little’s books speak of it. He says: “In Europe, except where the scenery is purely wild, and more especially in America, the delight of gazing on many of the most beautiful scenes is often alloyed by the crude newness of man’s work. This is true now of Japan, since the rage for copying western architecture and dress has fallen upon the Islands of the Rising Sun. But here in Western China little has intervened to mar the accord between nature and man.” In the country on which we are now entering the natural grandeur is finer than anything I had seen since I left the Gorges, and incidentally I do not mind confessing to the indulgent reader that when I came again through Hsiakwan, again westward bound, I was tired, my feet were blistered and broken, each day and every day had brought me a hard journey, and here I was now facing the most difficult journey yet met with—literally not a li of level road.
My journey was by the following route:—
Length Height of Stage Above Sea
1st day Ho-chiang-p’u 90 li 5,050 ft. 2nd day Yang-pi 60 li 5,150 ft. 3rd day T’ai-p’ing-p’u 70 li 7,400 ft. 5th day Hwan-lien-p’u 50 li 5,200 ft. 6th day Ch’u-tung 95 li 5,250 ft. 7th day Shayung 75 li 4,800 ft.
T’ai-p’ing-p’u (two days from Tali-fu), bleak and perched away up among the clouds, could never be called a town; it is merely a ramshackle place which gives one sleep and food in the difficult stage between Hwan-lien-p’u and Yang-pi.