[Footnote AZ: On my return journey into Yuen-nan, I again called at Ch’u-tung, traveling not by the main road, but by a steep path intertwisting through almost impossible places, and requiring four times the amount of physical exertion. I was led over what was called a new road. It was quite impossible to horses carrying loads, and only by tremendous effort could I climb up. How my coolies managed it remains a mystery. And then, as is almost inevitable with these “new” roads and the “short” cuts, they invariably lose their way. Mine did. Hopeless was our obscurity, unspeakable our confusion. Men kept vanishing and re-appearing among the rocks, and it was very difficult to fix our position geographically. Up and up we went, in and out, twisting and turning in an endless climb. A gale blew, but at times we pulled ourselves up by the dried grass in semi-tropical heat. After several hours, standing on the very summit of this bleak and lofty mountain, I could just discern Ch’u-tung and Yung-p’ing-hsien far away down in the mists. There lay the “ta lu” also, like a piece of white ribbon stretched across black velvet—the white road on the burnt hill-sides. We were opposite the highest peaks in the mountains beyond the plain, far towards Tengyueh—they are 12,000 feet, we were at least 10,500 feet, and as Ch’u-tung is only 5,500 feet, our hours of toil may be imagined. When we reached the top we found nothing to eat, nothing to drink (not even a mountain stream at which we could moisten our parched lips), simply two memorial stones on the graves of two dead men, who had merited such an outrageous resting-place. I donned a sweater and lay flat on the ground, exhausted. It must have been a stiff job to bring up both stones and men.
I strongly advise future travelers to keep to the main road in this district.—E.J.D.]
THE MEKONG VALLEY TO TENGYUEH
The Valley of the Shadow of Death. Stages to Tengyueh. The River Mekong, Bridge described. An awful ascent. On-the-spot conclusions. Roads needed more than railways. At Shui-chai. A noisy domestic scene at the place where I fed. Disregard of the value of female life. Remarkable hospitality of the gentry of the city. Hard going. Lodging at a private house on the mountains. Waif of the world entertains the stranger. From Ban-chiao to Yung-ch’ang. Buffaloes and journalistic ignorance. Excited scene at Pu-piao. Chinese barbers. A refractory coolie. Military interest.