Midway down the steep hill we happened on some lonely log cottages, twenty-five li from T’ai-p’ing-p’u (it is reckoned as thirty-five li traveling in the opposite direction). In the forest district I found the houses all built of timber—wood piles placed horizontally and dovetailed at the ends, the roofs being thatched. You have merely to step aside from the road, and you are in dense mountain forest; it is manifestly easier and less costly than the mud-built habitation, although for their part the people are worse off because of the lack of available ground for growing their crops. Here the people were still essentially Lolo, and the big-footed women who boiled water under a shed had difficulty in getting to understand what my men were talking about.
The second descent is begun after a pleasant walk along level ground resembling a well-laid-out estate, and a treacherously rough mile brought us down to an iron chain bridge swung over the Shui-pi Ho, at the far end of which, hidden behind bamboo matting, are a few idols in an old hut; they act in the dual capacity of gods of the river and the mountain. Tea and some palatable baked persimmon—very like figs when baked—were brought me by an awful-looking biped who was still in mourning, his unshaven skull sadly betokening the fact. As I sipped my tea and cracked jokes with some Szech’wan men who declared they had met me in Chung-king (I must resemble in appearance a European resident in that city; it was the fourth time I had been accused of living there), I admired the grand scenery farther along. Especially did I notice one peak, towering perpendicularly away up past woods of closely-planted pine and fir trees, the crystal summit glistening with sunlit snow; as soon as I started again on my journey, I was pulling up towards it. Soon I was gazing down upon the tiny patches of light green and a few solitary cottages, resembling a little beehive, and one could imagine the metaphorical wax-laying and honey-making of the inhabitants. These people were away from all mankind, living in life-long loneliness, and all unconscious of the distinguished foreigner away up yonder, who wondered at their patient toiling, but who, like them, had his Yesterday, To-day and To-morrow. There they were, perched high up on the bleak mountain sides, with their joys and sorrows, their pains and penalties, struggling along in domestic squalor, and rearing young rusticity and raw produce.
On these mountains in Yuen-nan one sees hundreds of such little encampments of a few families, passing their existence far from the road of the traveler, who often wished he could descend to them and quench his thirst, and eat with them their rice and maize. Most of them here were isolated families of tribespeople, who, out of contact with their kind, have little left of racial resemblance, and yet are not fully Chinese, so that it is difficult to tell what they really are. Most were Lolo.