Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/298

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CHAPTER XII

THE MONGOLIAN GRASSLAND

MY stay in Peking was not all pleasure and sight-seeing, for it was necessary to decide there upon the next steps. Within a few weeks I would have to be on the Siberian railway homeward bound. Should I spend the time left me in seeing Shantung, the Sacred Province, with all it had of interest to offer, or should I make a hurried run through the debatable land of Manchuria? One or the other seemed the natural thing to do, but I had an uneasy feeling that either would mean conventional travel, so far as that is possible in China, railways, and maybe hotels. Then Shantung is now a much-visited country, while Manchuria, dominated by Russia and Japan, was hardly likely to offer "an open door" to anything more than the most cut-and-dried guidebook travel.

But Mongolia seemed to afford a way out of my doubts. Post-roads and trade-routes crossed the country from the Great Wall, sooner or later striking the Siberian railway near Lake Baikal. That would set me forward some five days on the overland journey to Moscow, cutting off just so much of railway travel, and as far as I could learn there were no hotels, not