Twenty-five li farther we reached Kan-lan-chai (4,800 feet), February 9th, 1910, New Year’s morning. Nothing could be bought. Everywhere the people said, “Puh mai, puh mai,” and although we had traveled the twenty-five li over a terrible road, with a fearful gradient at the end, we could not get anyone to make tea for us. It is distinctly against the Chinese custom to sell anything at New Year time, of course. We had to boil our own water and make our own tea. A larger crowd than usual gathered around me because of the general holiday; and as I write now I am seated in my folding-chair with all the reprobates near to me—men gazing emptily, women who have rushed from their houses combing their hair and nursing their babies, the beggars with their poles and bowls, numberless urchins, all open-mouthed and curious. These are kept from crowding over me by the two soldiers, who the day before had come on ahead to book rooms in the place. I stayed at Kan-lan-chai on another occasion. Then I found a good room, but later learned that it was a horse inn, the yard of which was taken up by fifty-nine pack animals with their loads. Pegs were as usual driven into the ground in parallel rows, a pair of ponies being tied to each—not by the head, but by the feet, a nine-inch length of rope being attached to the off foreleg of one and the near foreleg of the other, the animals facing each other in rows, and eating from a common supply in the center. Everyone in the small town was busy doing and driving, very anxious that I should be made comfortable, which might have been the case but for some untiring musician who was traveling with the caravan, and seemed to be one of that species of humankind who never sleeps. His notes, however, were fairly in harmony, but when it runs on to 3:00 a.m., and one knows that he has to be again on the move by five, even first-rate Chinese music is apt to be somewhat disturbing.
From the Salwen-Shweli watershed I got a fine view of the mountains I had crossed yesterday. Some ten miles or so to the north was the highest peak in the range—Kao-li-kung I think it is called—conical-shaped and clear against the sky, and some 13,000 feet high, so far as I could judge.
An easy stage brought me to Tengyueh. I stayed here a day only, Mr. Embery, of the China Inland Mission, a countryman of my own, kindly putting me up. But Tengyueh, as one of the quartet of open ports in the province, is well known. It is only a small town, however, and one was surprised to find it as conservative a town as could be found anywhere in the province, despite the fact that foreigners have been here for many years, and at the present time there are no less than seven Europeans here.
I was glad of a rest here. From Tali-fu had been most fatiguing.
THE LI-SU TRIBE OF THE SALWEN VALLEY