CHAPTER IX. VOYAGING TO YUEN-NAN
We had a busy week in Hongkong outfitting for our trip to Yuen-nan. Hongkong is one of the best cities in the Orient in which to purchase supplies of almost any kind, for not only is the selection excellent, but the best English goods can be had for prices very little in excess of those in London itself.
The system which we used in our commissary was that of the unit food box which has been adopted by most large expeditions. The boxes were packed to weigh seventy pounds each and contained all the necessary staple supplies for three persons for one week; thus only one box needed to be opened at a time, and, moreover, if the party separated for a few days a single box could be taken without the necessity of repacking and with the assurance that sufficient food would be available.
Our supplies consisted largely of flour, butter, sugar, coffee, milk, bacon, and marmalade, and but little tinned meat, vegetables, or fruit because we were certain to be able to obtain a plentiful supply of such food in the country through which we were expecting to travel.
Our tents were brought from New York and were made of light Egyptian cotton thoroughly waterproof, but we also purchased in Hongkong a large army tent for the servants and two canvas flies to protect loads and specimens. We used sleeping bags and folding cots, tables and chairs, for when an expedition expects to remain in the field for a long time it is absolutely necessary to be as comfortable as possible and to live well; otherwise one cannot work at one's highest efficiency.
For clothing we all wore khaki or "Dux-back" suits with flannel shirts and high leather shoes for mountain climbing, and we had light rubber automobile shirts and rubber caps for use in rainy weather. The auto shirt is a long, loose robe which slips over the head and fastens about the neck and, when one is sitting upon a horse, can be so spread about as to cover all exposed parts of the body; it is especially useful and necessary, and hip rubber boots are also very comfortable during the rainy season.
Our traps for catching small mammals were brought from New York. We had two sizes of wooden "Out of Sight" for mice and rats, and four or five sizes of Oneida steel traps for catching medium sized animals such as civets and polecats. We also carried a half dozen No. 5 wolf traps. Mr. Heller had used this size in Africa and found that they were large enough even to hold lions.
Mr. Heller carried a 250-300 Savage rifle, while I used a 6-1/2 mm. Mannlicher and a .405 Winchester. All of these guns were eminently satisfactory, but the choice of a rifle is a very personal matter and every sportsman has his favorite weapon. We found, however, that a flat trajectory high-power rifle such as those with which we were armed was absolutely essential for many of our shots were at long range and we frequently killed gorals at three hundred yards or over.
The camera equipment consisted of two 3A Kodaks, a Graphic 4 x 5 tripod camera, and Graflex 4 x 5 for rapid work. We have found after considerable field experience that the 4 x 5 is the most convenient size to handle, for the plate is large enough and can be obtained more readily than any other in different parts of the world. The same applies to the 3A Kodak "post-card" size film, for there are few places where foreign goods are carried that 3A films cannot be purchased.
All of our plates and films were sealed in air-tight tin boxes before we left America, and thus the material was in perfect condition when the cans were opened. We used plates almost altogether in the finer photographic work, for although they are heavier and more difficult to handle than films, nevertheless the results obtained are very superior. A collapsible rubber dark room about seven feet high and four feet in diameter was an indispensable part of the camera equipment. This tent was made for us by the Abercrombie &Fitch Company, of New York, and could be hung from the limb of a tree or the rafters of a building and be ready for use in five minutes.
The motion pictures were taken with a Universal camera, and like all other negatives were developed in the field by means of a special apparatus which had been designed by Mr. Carl Akeley of the American Museum of Natural History. This work required a much larger space than that of the portable dark room and we consequently had a tent made of red cloth which could be tied inside of our ordinary sleeping tent.
Our equipment was packed in fiber army trunks and in wooden boxes with sliding tops. The latter arrangement is especially desirable in Yuen-nan, for the loads can be opened without being untied from the saddle, thus saving a considerable amount of time and trouble.
It was by no means an easy matter to get our supplies together, but the Lane &Crawford Company of Hongkong pushed the making and packing of our boxes in a remarkably efficient manner; as the manager of one of their departments expressed it, "the one way to hurry a Chinaman is to get more Chinamen," and they put a small army at work upon our material, which was ready for shipment in just a week.
While in Hongkong we were joined by Wu Hung-tao, of Shanghai, who acted as interpreter and "head boy" as well as a general field manager of the expedition. He formerly had been in the employ of Mr. F. W. Gary, when the latter was Commissioner of Customs in Teng-yueh, Yuen-nan, and he was educated at the Anglo-Chinese College of Foochow. Wu proved to be the most efficient and trustworthy servant whom we have ever employed, and the success of our work was due in no small degree to his efforts.