Across China on Foot eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 397 pages of information about Across China on Foot.
of color, and earth and heaven seemed of one opinion in the harmony of the reds, the purples, the drabs, the blacks, the browns, the bright blues, and the yellows.  Birds were as tame as they were in the Great Beginning; they came under the table as I ate, and picked up the crumbs without fear.  Peasant people sat under great cedars, planted to give shade to the travelers, and bade one feel at home in his lonely pilgrimage.  Then one felt a peculiar feeling—­this feeling will arise in any traveler—­when, surmounting some hill range in the desert road, one descries, lying far below, embosomed in its natural bulwarks, the fair village, the resting-place, the little dwelling-place of men, where one is to sleep.  But when towards nightfall, as the good red sun went down, I was led, weary and done-up, into one of the worst inns it had been my misfortune to encounter, a thousand other thoughts and feelings united in common anathema to the unenterprising community.

Tea was bad, rice we could not get, and all night long the detestable smells from the wood fires choked our throats and blinded our eyes; glad, therefore, was I, despite the heavy rain, to take a hurried and early departure the next morning, descending a thousand feet to a river, rising quite as suddenly to a height of 8,500 feet.

Now the road went over a mountain broad and flat, where traveling in the sun was extremely pleasant—­or, rather, would have been had I been fit.  Pack-horses, laden clumsily with their heavy loads of Puerh tea, Manchester goods, oil and native exports from Yuen-nan province, passed us on the mountain-side, and sometimes numbers of these willing but ill-treated animals were seen grazing in the hollows, by the wayside, their backs in almost every instance cruelly lacerated by the continuous rubbing of the wooden frames on which their loads were strapped.  For cruelty to animals China stands an easy first; love of animals does not enter into their sympathies at all.  I found this not to be the case among the Miao and the I-pien, however; and the tribes across the Yangtze below Chao-t’ong, locally called the Pa-pu, are, as a matter of fact, fond of horses, and some of them capable horsemen.

The journey across these mountains has no perils.  One may step aside a few feet with no fear of falling a few thousand, a danger so common in most of the country from Sui-fu downwards.  The scenery is magnificent—­range after range of mountains in whatever direction you look, nothing but mountains of varying altitudes.  And the patches of wooded slopes, alternating with the red earth and more fertile green plots through which streams flow, with rolling waterfalls, picturesque nooks and winding pathways, make pictures to which only the gifted artist’s brush could do justice.  Often, gazing over the sunlit landscape, in this land “South of the Clouds,” one is held spellbound by the intense beauty of this little-known province, and one wonders what all this grand scenery, untouched and unmarred by the hand of man, would become were it in the center of a continent covered by the ubiquitous globe-trotter.

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Across China on Foot from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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