Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/29

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A WAYFARER IN CHINA

CHAPTER I

ACROSS TONKING

THREE years ago West China seemed at the back of beyond. To make your way in you had either to traverse the length of Upper Burma and then cross the great rivers and ranges of western Yunnan, a weary month-long journey, or else spend tedious weeks ascending the Yangtse, the monotony of the trip tempered by occasional shipwreck. To-day, thanks to French enterprise, you can slip in between mountain and river and find yourself at Yunnan-fu, the provincial capital, after a railway journey of only three days and a half from Haiphong, the port of Tonking.

When first planning a visit to West China, I set my heart on going in from the west, for I had long wished to see the wild, picturesque country that lies between the Burmese frontier and the Yangtse. Years before, I had looked across the border and promised myself that some day I would find out what lay on the other side. But when the time came the difficulty