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A CAMEL TRAIN HALTS FOR WATER The merchandise is from the far interior and is bound for Paotow (see page 197), the present terminus of the Peking-Süiyuan Railway, near the southern edge of the Mongolian Desert. The halt is three days' march outside the city, which is a great center for overland freight from Mongolia, northwest China, and Turkestan.
A CAMP OF CAMEL DRIVERS
with strong tea. The cask is used to carry water.
An Account of the Work of the National Geographic Society's Central-China Expedition in the Mongol Kingdom of Ala Shan
BY FREDERICK R. WULSIN
With Illustrations from Photographs by the Author "T was at Paotow, near the southern crossed the Hwang (Yellow) River. Ad
edge of the Mongolian Desert and vancing spring had rotted the ice on the
the present terminus of the railroad river until it was too soft to bear the which points in a northwesterly direction weight of men and animals, and for a from Peking across Asia, that the Na- stretch of 1,200 miles there are no bridges. tional Geographic Society's Central-China
THE CHINESE CAMEL MUST BE HUMORED Expedition made its final arrangements for an eight months' inland journey We kept to the northern bank, far through the Province of Kansu,* in the enough from the river to avoid irrigation extreme northwest
of China ditches, since a camel dreads mud more proper, where Mongolia, China, and Tibet than cold, thirst, or hardship. His big, come together.
padded feet slip on wet ground, his long Our mission was to gather from these legs get tangled, and a fall may result in little-known regions botanical and zoolog- permanent injury. ical specimens, which were subsequently The Chinese make their camels work presented by The Society to the U. S. all winter, leaving them no opportunity to National Museum, in Washington. In put on fat and build up resistance to hardaddition, I hoped to make a study of the ship. Camels owned by Mongols, on the people of northwestern China.
contrary, usually make only two trips a Our caravan consisted of 27 camels, be- season, and can, therefore, start out in sides horses, which were purchased at the best condition, march fast, and keep Paotow, and the retinue included 15 going for long hours. They are the beasts Chinese employés, among whom were which have made the camel's reputation four camel-drivers, who were to accom
in Asia (see page 206). pany us as far as Wang Ye Fu (Ting- Ours were the inferior Chinese animals yüianying), in Ala Shan, a Mongolian and had other peculiarities which we had kingdom which we estimated to be 23 to humor. For one thing, they fed best days' march to the west. Here we were in the morning, after resting ; so we travto find other transport for the remainder eled in the afternoon and evening. of our journey (see map, page 199). Our short, fat Chinese cook found this
Those 23 days grew to 39, for the way arrangement deplorable and we shared was longer and the going worse than any- his opinion.
his opinion. Breakfast and lunch were one had expected.
telescoped into one meal, called "brunch," The route from Paotow lay to the taken about 10 o'clock in the morning. northwest, over dry, open country, dotted The next, except for hard-tack munched with the homesteads of a few Chinese in the saddle, came late in the evening, settlers, who take up the land in Mon- sometimes at II o'clock. golia wherever there is enough water for We often finished a march in the dark, farming.
blundering into holes or leading our The straight trail to our destination was horses and looking for the trail with a far south of our actual route, but we lantern; but with a full or waxing moon, had to avoid it, for at two points it .which lit up the still desert brightly and
made mud-walled farms look like Arabian * See, also, “Where the Mountains Walked.” palaces, night marching was glorious. by L'pton Close and Elsie McCormick, in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE for May,
I remember one evening in particular, 1922.
when we ended our march by the dim
A CHINESE STREET MERCHANT OF PAOTOW He packs up his wares when the day is over and carries them off in two boxes slung on a pole over his shoulder. Note the column in the background. Similar columns stand thick along the main street. On one night of the month which follows Chinese New Year, all are packed with fuel and lighted. turning the whole city into an inferno of flame.
light of the stars. My wife had been rid- nese assistant, leading his horse by the ing with me all afternoon, far in advance bridle, his rifle over his arm, was chatof the camels. Long after sunset we saw ting with a Chinese who had sprung up two trees dimly outlined over a hill from nowhere. Soon a guide appeared against the sky, and after crossing a and led us off to the south, over uneven brook, we came suddenly upon the camp fields, to a small farmhouse hardly disof a caravan of traders—dung fires shin- cernible in the darkness. ing through tent doors and black masses
THE EXPEDITION CAMPS IN A BARNYARD of grunting camels on their knees by the roadside, while dogs barked everywhere. A single low building stood on one
Up ahead, Mr. Wu, my principal Chi- side of a square, mud-walled courtyard.
Drawn by A. H. Bumstead A SKETCH MAP OF A PORTION OF THE ROUTE OF THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC
SOCIETY'S CENTRAL-CIIINA EXPEDITION The Expedition's caravan was organized at Paotow. After a march of 39 days, headquarters
were established at Wang Ye Fu, capital of the Mongol kingdom of Ala Shan.
Inside was one long, low-ceilinged room, us out to study the surroundings. There in the middle of which was a stove made were a few fields, some sand dunes, and of earth. On the sides were long brick a brook which soon lost itself in the platforms for sleeping accommodations. A desert-a very desolate scene. clay dish of oil held a floating wick, whose Four or five farmhouses stood close flickering flame could hardly pierce the together. One was in ruins, having been mixed fumes of frying food, opium, to- looted by robbers a few months before. bacco, and steaming humanity. Both The thieves had been caught by soldiers sleeping platforms were crowded with
from the nearest garrison and executed camel-drivers, peasants, and travelers. at the scene of the robbery. West of the
One glance at this squalor, and we set ruin, on a sand dune, one robber's blackup our tent in the courtyard, among pigs, ened head swung in a cage and a second donkeys, and oxen. Our cook had elbowed broken cage lay on the ground with anhis way to the fire. Soon he sent us other head in it (see page 201). canned soup, boiled millet, and the ubiqui- Beyond, to the horizon, stretched the tous, underfed chicken of the Orient. We bare, brown plain of Mongolia, hazy in ate all we could-boiled millet is more the pale light of morning. filling than nourishing—and soon sank into oblivion.
MONGOL WEALTH CONSISTS OF ANIMALS At 3 a. m. a gale sprang up, whirling As we advanced, the farms became on high all the dry débris of the court- fewer, and after a week we turned due yard. For the rest of the night I kept my west over stony plains, empty and unfit head under a blanket to avoid the flying for tillage. Soon we saw the tents of our dust and straw, emerging at intervals to first pastoral Mongols, which were small, lash down some part of the tent which round buildings of felt stretched on threatened to blow away.
wooden framework—warm, snug houses Each lull in the gale was punctuated for the bitter cold winter, capable of beby unearthly shrieks from a demented ing taken down or set up in a few hours woman, a member of the farmer's family, (see page 202). who sought to outhowl the storm from The Mongols live on their sheep, goats, her corner in the main building.
camels and horses. They eat the flesh, Dawn brought better weather and took drink the milk, and sell the hair and the