However, my companion and I fed later.
Subsequently to this we agreed not to be drawn to the clubs or mix in the social life of Shanghai, but to consider ourselves as two beings entirely apart from the sixteen thousand and twenty-three Britishers, Americans, Frenchmen, Germans, Russians, Danes, Portuguese, and other sundry internationals at that moment at Shanghai. They lived there: we were soon to leave.
The city was suffering from the abnormal congestion common to the Orient, with a big dash of the West. Trams, motors, rickshaws, the peculiar Chinese wheelbarrow, horrid public shaky landaus in miniature, conveyances of all kinds, and the swarming masses of coolie humanity carrying or hauling merchandise amid incessant jabbering, yelling, and vociferating, made intense bewilderment before breakfast.
FROM SHANGHAI UP THE LOWER YANGTZE TO ICHANG
To Ichang, an everyday trip. Start from Shanghai, and the city’s appearance. At Hankow. Meaning of the name. Trio of strategic and military points of the empire. Han-yang and Wu-ch’ang. Commercial and industrial future of Hankow. Getting our passports. Britishers in the city. The commercial Chinaman. The native city: some impressions. Clothing of the people. Cotton and wool. Indifference to comfort. Surprise at our daring project. At Ichang. British gunboat and early morning routine. Our vain quest for aid. Laying in stores and commissioning our boat. Ceremonies at starting gorges trip. Raising anchor, and our departure.
Let no one who has been so far as Ichang, a thousand miles from the sea, imagine that he has been into the interior of China.
It is quite an everyday trip. Modern steamers, with every modern convenience and luxury, probably as comfortable as any river steamers in the world, ply regularly in their two services between Shanghai and this port, at the foot of the Gorges.
The Whang-poo looked like the Thames, and the Shanghai Bund like the Embankment, when I embarked on board a Jap boat en route for Hankow, and thence to Ichang by a smaller steamer, on a dark, bitterly cold Saturday night, March 6th, 1909. I was to travel fifteen hundred miles up that greatest artery of China. The Yangtze surpasses in importance to the Celestial Empire what the Mississippi is to America, and yet even in China there are thousands of resident foreigners who know no more about this great river than the average Smithfield butcher. Ask ten men in Fleet Street or in Wall Street where Ichang is, and nine will be unable to tell you. Yet it is a port of great importance, when one considers that the handling of China’s vast river-borne trade has been opened to foreign trade and residence since the Chefoo Convention was signed in 1876, that Ichang is a city of forty thousand souls, and has a gross total of imports of nearly forty millions of taels.