Journal entry

Scope and Content

Siao Yai Tung (Small Cliff Caves), June 4 .

They started on the Suifu road and covered the 70 li in good weather, although it had rained heavily just before their departure. The first half of the road was over the Chao Tung plain which is roughly forty by fifty English miles. They then travelled through a gap in the hills, passed by a gate, which is closely guarded in times of trouble with Szechuan, but which was unprotected today. They then came down a steep gradient and at the bottom followed the course of a little stream which they had to constantly cross and recross. The whole of the valley is very lovely. They are now staying in what seems like another outlet of the river. Rocky hills, honeycombed with caves, rise high above them. Nearby are six or seven Christian Miao villages and they have passed others. The valley is rich and is populated with Chinese - their villages are dirty and dilapidated and it was a pleasant surprise to discover that the inn in which they are spending the night, is a new comfortable stone building.

Yesterday H B R read [Samuel] Pollard's Story of the Miao and Tight Corners in China. Today he read F. J. Clarke's story of the C.I.M. [China Inland Mission] work among the tribes. This reading together with Major Davies's Yunnan and [William Alexander] Grist's biography of Pollard, combined with H B R's endless questioning should give him a reasonable knowledge of the situation. 'Pollard is part of our Methodist inheritance and we might as well enjoy him'.

They are following the telegraph lines once again to Suifu. As usual on these big roads there are large numbers of pack horses coming and going with heavy loads of rock salt. There are said to be wolves in the hills but H B R and his companions have not seen any.

Ta Kwan Hsian (Big Pass City, June 5 .

This has certainly been the most beautiful day of the trip so far. They continued following the stream for about 30 li this morning, crossing and recrossing on stepping stones until they got tired enough to climb into their chairs and let the coolies carry them over. Soon after that the stream disappeared - presumably underground and 'after we had passed a valley made beautiful with reeds and red primulas and containing a water-fall of anything over 300 feet we began going down a valley as steep as and more massive than the incense mills at Kuling. It is as though we had gone right down...into the plain through a deep ravine whose stream was dry. At the bottom was a noisy mountain torrent rushing along and joined by underground waters. This we have followed all the afternoon amidst wonderful scenery, the water reminding me sometimes of the Kuling main stream...and at times I kept thinking of Bolton Abbey [Yorkshire] and the waters and woodland there. There were Chinese cottages every few hundred yards and their occupants on the hill-sides or in the valley...hard at work after the rain among the maize, beans, flax and potatoes which seem to be the main crops now that the opium (not much) and the grain had been gathered in. This winning back of land from the stream goes on in all the valleys. Partly it is nature's way for the stream to cut back and deeper; partly man is aiding the process by fencing and walling off little sections of the stream bed so that inevitably a lake-like river is shepherded into it's own canal and nature does the rest'. The Chinese take the better land for growing rice while the Miao are on the mountain tops in less fertile sections where the Chinese are unable or unwilling to go.

Ta Kwan Hsian has a long street, 'with gates if not walls and is a Hsian city'. In 1902, just after the Boxer uprising, Pollard seemed to be beginning a big work among the Chinese here. In this town and every place of any size as far as the Yangtze there seemed to be prospects - that is as far as H B R has got in Grist's biography. The next chapter is "The call of the Miao" and presumably that great movement overshadowed everything else and the work here declined to nothing. It was after the Boxer business and 'motives must have been very mixed' but one wonders what would have happened if Pollard had not been called to the Miao or if he had been able to carry on this work in addition to the work among the Miao. That has, in H B R's opinion, been one of the most urgent problems since the commencement of the Miao work - perhaps it is not too late.

Ta Wan Tze (Big Turning, June 6 .

H B R is sitting on the hill-side overshadowed by one mountain and hemmed in on all sides by others rising up about two thousand feet. They have only come about 70 li today, starting about seven and finishing by two. After washing and putting their beds and [mosquito] nets up it is still only 3.30, so it seems as if they are wasting several hours of daylight. However these stages are worked out with a number of factors in mind - safety, ample accommodation, endurance of horses or coolies over a twelve days trip, distance between inns and so forth. So far they have enjoyed ideal weather and are moving quickly because people are walking a great deal, but poor weather can make a difference of two or three hours in a journey of 70 li. Occasionally, one can press on and complete the journey in two thirds of the time - the P. O. couriers for example always travel by night and day.

All day today they have been following yesterday's stream which has in fact turned into something of a river. They have been three to four hundred feet above it all day coming down the "Big Pass". H B R's memory of his trip through the Rockies in 1931 is dim but he is not expecting to see anything grander than he has seen today. He calculates that they have come down fifteen hundred feet yesterday and perhaps another five hundred today, so the weather is much warmer. Cicadas have been buzzing all day long. They had lunch at a little town called Yellow Fruit Brook [Huang Ko Chi]. The brook was the stream, beside which they have been travelling all day, and which raged along beneath one of the iron chain bridges which are so characteristic of this part of the world. It consisted of several chains of iron stretched across the river and fastened into the stone work on either bank.

He has been reading more of Grist's biography of Pollard, which seems to be a pretty good history of Methodist work around here until 1915 [Pollard's death] and is therefore well worth reading. H B R understands however that friends of Pollard were in fact disappointed by the book - perhaps the book as it is will be more important in the long run than a mere eulogy of Pollard would have been.

It is rare for foreigners to come along this road since the French railway opened, 'but this road on the whole is richer, better populated and certainly more beautiful and less wild than the road by which I entered Chao Tung'.

There is some [Methodist] work taking place among the Hwa Miao thirty li from here and that is the last in this direction although there are some Christians among the Chuan Miao.

'That post-Boxer Chinese move has just petered out though at one time there were a number of good Chinese preachers put in charge of it, including John Li of Ningpo Conference fame. I gather there was just not enough strength to oversee both Chinese and Miao work and the former had to go'.

During the last two days, they have passed six or seven excellent and beautiful stone bridges. Certainly the Chinese, when they put their minds to it, are superb bridge builders.

Opium is just as much in evidence here as elsewhere. The new crop is just in and 'we have been watching the joy of the happy possessor of a large rice basin full of the bees-wax like stuff, as he carefully smoothed it out with the aid of a ferule and his spittle. Why shouldn't one sort of muck be added to another? One advantage of opium-smoking coolies is that they do not sit up all night gambling and talking and quarrelling...'.

Chi Li P'u (Lucky Shop), June 6 .

They have travelled a hard sixty li today through the hills and are once more ready with beds and [mosquito] nets by the early afternoon. The river has now been joined by two more big streams and innumerable brooks, with occasional waterfalls. The country through which they have come is, despite it's ruggedness, fairly well-populated. Every little plateau has a Chinese farm or two or three houses perched on seemingly inaccessible cliffs. They have passed a number of streets, all of them with opium-smoking coolies in broad daylight and other people. It is doubtful if the opium situation has ever been worse. Yet in the period 1907-1910, it's use was practically wiped out with great ruthlessness 'but it is still of course "foreign smoke" or "foreign dirt".

At one point today, they came sheer down the side of a cliff some four to five hundred feet, using a set of zig-zag steps cut into the rock. The route is in constant use by pack-horses and mules. It was a good bit of building work, but no wonder these animals do not take very long journeys per day. Every stage has mule or horse inns with stabling for thirty or forty animals. A large part of the cargo carried from Szechuan appears to be slabs of salt, coloured purplish grey not unlike gypsum. This part of Yunnan is supplied, by government decree, with salt from Szechuan and nowhere else.

They passed one excellent stone bridge and two rope bridges today. The latter consists of a strong bamboo rope stretching from bank to bank. The traveller sits in a very simple sling which swings him down to the middle of the rope and then he either pulls himself or is pulled by a rope from the farther bank.

At one point H B R noticed a huge overhanging cliff being supported by innumerable small stones. It is apparently 'a sort of offering from the coolies in the hope of easing their back- ache, poor chaps. They ease these "atlases" of rocks and hope they may be eased in return...'.

They were fortunate in their inn again today. It seems to be the end of this phase of their journey and doubtless there will be very different scenery tomorrow, although they will be in the middle of the mountains for several days to come

. Two or three captive monkeys were seen on their journey yesterday and today. Hudspeth saw two wild ones on his last trip into the woodland opposite the stone stair-way. They must be a fairly hardy breed for the temperatures do not really seem to be hot enough.

Tu Sha Pass (Bean Sand Pass), June 8 .

They are now at the top of another pass with the same river three to four hundred feet below them. The scenery has been as lovely as ever. Houses are perched in any place where a living can be scratched from the soil, many of them the poorest hovels, but he does not suppose that with this good climate, they need much of a roof.

The river is wider, deeper and more yellow than ever as it makes it's long way to the sea. 'It has shown men the way there and by and by it will carry me the last few hundred miles of my journey; for all rivers here help to make the Yangtze'. Just before they reached this place, on the opposite side of the river is a steep cliff rising about one hundred and fifty feet above the river bed. About fifty feet above the water in the side of the cliff, are the remains of old coffins. 'One was quite plain. The coffin had evidently collapsed from the weight of the overhanging rock and the slabs were all squashed together. A second place was pointed out not quite so clear and definite to me. The people call them Ku Chi (Ancient Tracks) and a temple has been erected on the left bank just opposite. The remains of two of these cliff coffins were brought to Chao Tung some years ago and the skeletons found to be non-Chinese but more like the I Pien or Nosu and the graves are supposed, like the mounds on the Chao- Tung plain, to go back to the pre-Chinese period. I do not know what is the rate of erosion of the river...or what other freak of nature may have raised these graves so far above the river bed. Doubtless they were originally in not very accessible places but as they are placed now they would be very hard to reach'.

H B R noticed a few pig-tails today. Old customs obviously die hard, which is not to be wondered at in such a huge country.

It rained hard during the night but has been clear and cold all day. They are slowly descending with every day now. So far the weather has been pleasant but tonight they are being plagued by mosquitoes. Opium use is more in evidence the further north they go. The potato has disappeared from the landscape.

Tu Sha Pass (Lao Wa T'an (Crow Rapid), June 9 .

They are now at a place completely swept away in the 1931 floods - even the iron bridge has gone. This is quite an important town in beautiful surroundings. It seems to have recovered very well from the devastation caused by the flood, which disaster turned the Tung Chuan plain into a lake, so that Mr [name missing] returning from the Hankow Conference had to sail for fifteen to twenty li right up to the city walls. The water also rose by forty to fifty feet at Tu Sha Kwan and exposed three or four more ancient graves in the cliff that had been faced with mud and stone. Further enquiry yesterday revealed that these coffins were made of very hard wood rather than stone and that the remains of two of them were sent to Chao Tung where they were seen by [William] Hudspeth. They were subsequently reburied rather than be preserved in a museum - such is China or at least the China of old. They left the river yesterday for a short while to go over a mountain after which they rejoined it. The bridge has been rebuilt of modern steel but according to the 'old fashion'.

They are staying in a new inn overlooking the river, or at least it would if there was a single window in the building. They have therefore walked down to the water's edge and are waiting opposite a great wave of water as the river plunges into a gorge.

The Methodists used to have a chapel here in the post-Boxer movement but that ceased to function some years ago.

Pu Erh T'an or Tu ( - Rapid or Ferry), June 10 .

H B R did not finish last night's story. There are more ancient coffins at Crow Rapid. Nothing more is known about them except that copper vessels were found in the tombs and they are supposed to have belonged to a race which lived in these parts before the arrival of the Chinese early in the Christian era. The weather has been thundery and highly variable. 'Last night in our inn facing the Western sun, above the pigs and what folks call the lavatory, with not a window or any other hole in the place except that there was no door, the kitchen stove being right opposite, I thought that the bugs and mosquitoes were a lesser evil than the insufferable heat and lay outside my net with no very bad if no very good results'.

The weather broke today. They travelled for half of the morning through rain and it was overcast the rest of the day. Just as they stopped travelling, the storm started again. They are staying in a modern inn, in a lively little town, with a new iron bridge. It too is being rebuilt after the devastation of the 1931 flood. There are plenty of windows in the inn, although as the place is not finished yet, none of the windows have glass and the building is only partially tiled.

As it is Sunday they have changed their shirts 'and cut a new cake and otherwise not kept the sabbath but come a pretty hard 30 miles'. They were on the road from 7am until 5.30pm and going as hard as they could most of the time. The mountains are still there but are considerably smaller. The river has passed through one continuous set of rapids for the whole thirty miles. They have seen three boats being hauled along and three more are anchored in a little creek.

They are still in Yunnan although the place where they are staying tonight is only a few miles from Szechuan. Towns are getting bigger and the people more sophisticated as they travel along. There is a greater air of prosperity - Yunnan is terribly poor and is still very much a 'settlers' country'.

The cuckoo has been left behind on the Yunnan plains where it was almost universal. H B R has never heard it anywhere else in China. He wishes that they had left the opium there too. There is little sign of it's cultivation here, but almost everyone smokes it and all the inns seem to make more provision for the opium smoker than for any other traveller.

Huang Pao Erh Tsui (Yellow Raspberry Bridge), June 11 .

They came another thirty miles today and some of the coolies are so tired that they are already asleep despite the fact that it is still light. It rained hard all night and it was lovely and cool - H B R slept better than at any time since leaving Chao Tung. Early this morning they went to have a look at the Iron Bridge and discovered that it is in fact made of bamboo. There were six or ten bamboo ropes slung two hundred feet across the river. Boards were laid across and tolls are being levied together with subscriptions to replace the existing structure with an iron one. The bamboo bridge will be a sort of scaffolding on which they can build it's replacement.

Each town seems to have an iron bridge either on the main river or a tributary.

They have been following the river all day, and have passed through two or three streets 'broken-down and opium-eaten'. The road has been very busy with coolies carrying loads on their backs of between two and three hundred pounds in weight. It is rather terrible to think of these men acting as beasts of burden in all kinds of weather from the Yangtze to Yunnanfu. Their only comfort is a pipe of opium and one can hardly begrudge them that, except that it is ruining the country.

They passed from Yunnan into Szechuan at 3pm and H B R had a wash in the dividing stream. The land is richer, the hills smaller and rice fields are very much in evidence. All the towns through which they pass, have been badly damaged by the great floods of 1931 and they are all being rebuilt. They rather hope that after one more long day of road (fifty li), they will be able to transfer to a boat and do the last one hundred and forty li at leisure.

This is a tiny fort-like building on the top of a hill. The sleeping quarters are rather uninspiring so H B R has set up his bed in the main hall under the chairs. It is again a nice cool evening so they should be able to get a much needed good night's sleep.

The last two days and nights would seem to suggest that they are travelling through disturbed country. The town militia are all armed to the teeth and there are many proclamations about brigandage. One or two of the places through which they passed this afternoon have had some disturbances in the last few days and H B R's party has been strongly advised to spend the night in a place where there is a fort and garrison. On the other hand, the roads are full of coolies and the days seem rather peaceful. It is at night that the outlaws come out. There is some vague talk about Communism but what truth there is in that is impossible to say. They will find out more in Suifu.

Huan Chiang (Across the River), June 12 .

Hudspeth says that it rained hard for most of the night and the state of the roads corroborated him. H B R himself slept early and well. They were on the road at 6.40am and stopped for the day at 4pm. It is now the intention to board a boat tomorrow and reach Suifu by the evening. They left their river behind at about 3pm yesterday and cut across country to pick it up again this evening. The country here has a much richer appearance than anything he saw in Yunnan - valleys going off in every direction from a central ridge across which they are travelling. The main crop is rice which is always a sign of prosperity. There has been one long stream of coolies travelling all day. Their main load in this direction seems to be salt as this port is a major loading point for salt junks coming up from Szechuan. Going the other way, they appeared to be carrying mainly paper.

They had barely arrived here when the rain started. Evidently it is the wet season which causes the Yangtze to rise.

During the nine days of travel along this main road, they did not encounter a single Protestant church, although they have been aware of work among the tribes not too far away. After Suifu there should be more work going on.

Practically all the adults between here and Chao Tung wear white turbans and on the Yunnan plain and among the tribes a felt cloak, which they weave themselves, is very much in evidence. Many of the men also wear a little felt skull cap.

Once you get close to Szechuan there are very few pack horses or mules. All the carrying is done by men on their backs and shoulders. 'I saw a man carrying his father up-hill today on the back-carrying contrivance. They have a strong forked rod to rest their burden on which reminded me of the stick-seat our best people take to the races. This stick also serves the purpose of a staff to steady themselves with in the slippery places and to help them up the hills...the whole journey has been one of amazing beauty but one often loses the sense of that in the toil of the road. From Yunnan to here I have come 1,580 li. Three or four hundred of it I have walked, some of it I motored, the most of it I have ridden and now for the rest 140 I am to sail'.

Suifu, June 13 .

They arrived here about 1pm and were very kindly received by Mr and Mrs Tompkins of the Baptist Mission. They had a civilised meal and H B R is writing these notes while waiting to have a bath. They shall then visit the hospital and see as much of the work and the city as they can today. Tomorrow at 10am, a boat leaves for Chungking where H B R shall arrive on Friday and will then make his way on as best he can. They covered the 140 li by boat today in about four and a half hours which included stops for customs inspections and another to disembark soldiers to chase bandits. 'Our road the last 2 or 3 days has not been considered very healthy and Dr Tompkins has a few gun-shot cases in consequence'. There is lots of talk about Communists but they have no power here at present. If a Red army made it to this province or Yunnan, it would be a different story.

The sailing today was quick and scenic, occasionally over little rapids. The river was called the Hun Chiang when they started and then it joined the Chin Chiang, which is really the Yangtze. They passed three considerable towns today with, as far as he knows, no missionary presence. The only hospital between here and Yunnanfu is the Methodist one at Chao Tung. That is a fair indication of the need.

They have had almost a record journey, helped by the good weather and lack of bandits. The last stretch of river travel saved them one day and brought them here comparatively fresh. Hudspeth has taken care of the problems of the journey, as Miss [Strudwick] Smith did on the last, so H B R has had it quite easy.

When H B R leaves tomorrow, a wire will be sent to the Canadian Methodists at Chungking to meet him, which will be very helpful. The Yunnan currencies are so varied and complicated that he would have found it difficult to keep a clear head.

Dr Tompkins kindly took his guests over the Baptist Mission 'plant'. It comprises almost everything imaginable - hospitals for men and women, schools for one thousand children including a wonderful kindergarten which is Mrs Tompkins's work, a Bible School for Women as well as general church premises. It is certainly one of the most complete sets of mission buildings to be found in China. This is the largest Baptist work in Szechuan although their other work is in better-known centres. 'Their missionaries are detailed (one for church work, one man and one woman for schools, one woman for women's evangelism, two doctors (man or woman) and one nurse for medical work). I am not so clear that devolution is taking place in our sense as that the foreigner stands for efficiency. There is a clash of ideals there that needs to be harmonised'. Dr Brethaner and Miss Crawford, formerly of the Hanyang Baptist Mission, are at the Women's Hospital here. H B R has not had the chance to call on the C.I.M. [China Inland Mission]. Their representatives here are the Olsens, who have been in China for forty years. Apparently they have no institutional work and there would not have been a great deal to look at.

Suifu is said to have a population of about two hundred thousand, but H B R believes the true figure to be nearer fifty thousand. There are new roads everywhere and the place looks very modern. It is clear that there are good relations between Church and people.

Everyone here seems interested to discover that H B R's party travelled on the Hun Chiang road quite peacefully without an escort.

On board the SS Mei Yih, above Suichow .

They are now sailing on a big river as wide as the Yangtze in many of it's reaches, although only about half the width of the river below Hankow. This boat is a Yangtze Rapids steamer and the company which owns it, operates a total of between twenty and thirty such boats. The vessel has a good speed of up to ninety li an hour down river. H B R estimates that they are doing about sixty at present. He is the only foreigner on board but his fellow passengers are very agreeable. Tonight they will stop at a place called Lu Chow which is about three hundred and twenty li down from Suifu. There are missionaries there. The boat will leave early in the morning and should be in Chungkiang by about 3pm. The river is very pretty as it winds it's way through cliffs and hills.

Huspeth came and saw him off. The boat left after the usual customs delays at about 1pm. They pass a considerable town every forty to sixty li are steaming through rich country ringed with hills. It all seems a little flat after the mountains of the last few weeks but it is very attractive. The Tompkins gave him enough food to supply his wants and there is any case rice on board so he will not go short. By paying double fare, he was able to get a cabin to himself.

Hudspeth calculates that he [Huspeth] will be home on July 2 - H B R estimates that he [H B R] will leave Shanghai on July 1 and that will probably be with one or two days to spare, so that gives some idea of relative rates of travel. Hudspeth is however going up stream and is staying in Suifu for four or five days and will also be attending a baptismal service in Churan Miao on his way back. H B R thinks there is little doubt that the way into Yunnan via Tungking is easier although for one travelling light, this way is cheaper. It is also more beautiful albeit more uncertain at the present time.

The Tompkins are certainly very kind. They are incidentally great friends and admirers of the Tuckers of Wu Ting Fu.

Lu Chow .

They arrived here about 6.30pm. From the river the city seems large with a long encircling wall. The people are dressing boats prior to a dragon-boat festival. 'This feast seems to be kept with a good deal of it's wonted enthusiasm in Szechuan. In fact Szechuan is a law or a lawlessness to itself in a number of matters. It has been a large and somewhat inaccessible province, practically self-supporting...Militarism and opium are the chief curses. Boat tracking has been in evidence all day - but there are, at the most, only 20 men to a boat. When we get the 300 or 400 to a boat as is said to happen in the gorges that will be some sight'.

Later .

He went ashore for an hour or two and found the United Church of Canada mission in the shape of Mr Hoffman (1903), a doctor, and two ladies, one with a girls' school and the other with a women's school. Apparently these women's schools, after the example set by Miss Booth, are quite common. There is one C.I.M. [China Inland Mission] family as in Suifu and, as there, the other missions do not know a great deal about the C.I.M. work 'beyond the fact that a good deal it in the neighbourhood had gone independent and even unpleasantly so'.

H B R has seen in the streets of this city such opium dens as amazed him, even after so long on the road. 'They were just shops...on to the street, doors open and a long dais down both walls 6 or 7 feet deep. On these platforms were lying smokers like sardines in a tin as many as could be crowded in. In one not large street were three such places. The people here are disturbed by Communism and fed up to the teeth with the oppression of the soldiers. Landlordism is pretty bad and speaking generally there is...some air of depression about this province. Canadian Missions are not being cut like American for they have not the [economic?] depression in that sense. They have suffered rather from their own far western calamities. So that new missionaries are coming as with us and policies are changing as with us'.

Ching King, June 16 .

It is about midnight. H B R is on the B. & S. [Butterfield and Swires] Wantung and expects to be in Ichang in time for the English service on Sunday evening.

They reached here about 3pm and H B R was entertained most kindly by Gordon Jones, business manager of the Canadian Methodist Church (United Church of Canada). By leaving tonight, he can make a connection at Ichang on Tuesday morning. He has therefore rushed around and seen all he can in the time available. Chung King is set on a hill and has three sets of hills opposite. It reminded H B R a little of Hong Kong. 'You are carried up the same sort of narrow stairways in Hong Kong chairs and it is very steep. Along the water's edge are rackety wooden houses which may occasionally be carried off by floods'. Within the city walls, the place is however being renewed with wide streets and the usual cement facades. He just had time to see the Church premises on top of the hill and had pointed out to him across the river the hospital and Boys' Middle School and the houses of the business firms. The M. E. M. [Methodist Episcopal Mission] are fairly strong here and the Friends [Quakers] and the C.I.M. also have a presence.

The M. E. missionary Mr McCurdy is supervising the building of a hall and institute, but it is to be run as a joint effort by a board of all the churches.

The city is said to have a population of seven hundred thousand, but as this is also Hankow's population, H B R believes it to be an overestimate.

He has a feeling that Szechuan is way ahead of Hupeh with regard to the provision of new roads and cities. Yang Sen started it all years ago and it has been carried on by his successors. H B R entertained Mr Jones to dinner with him on the boat and then they went to the weekly "talkies" [films] on the American gunboat. There he was introduced to the British consul Mr Marshall and also a Miss Cambourne (a former pupil of Miss Tilley's school) of the A.P.C. H B R sat next to Mr Shepherd's son, who is now working for Brunner Mond's (subsidiary of I.C.I. [Imperial Chemical Industry]). His parents have just been up from Shanghai.

The captain and officers on this boat have been very pleasant. H B R is the only foreign passenger on the vessel.

'Life between town and church in these little treaty ports has not the lines of division that are so marked in the second class places and do not matter in the first class ones'.

The day finished with a visit to the club and introductions to all sorts of people. He then watched the British Admiral come alongside in the ship Bee .