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G.E. Morrison

From Tongchuan to Yunnan city, the provincial seat of Government and official residence of the Viceroy, whither I was now bound, is a distance of two hundred miles. My two carriers from Chaotong had been engaged to go with me only as far as Tongchuan, but they now re-engaged to go with Laohwan, my third man, as far as the capital. The conditions were that they were to receive 6s. 9d. each (2.25 taels), one tael (3s.) to be paid in advance and the balance on arrival, and they were to do the distance in seven days.

Yunnan city is one of the great cities of China, not so much in size as in importance. It is within easy access at all seasons of the year of the French colony of Tonquin, whereas the trade route from here to British Burma is long, arduous, and mountainous, and in its Western portions is closed to traffic during the rains. From Yunnan City to Mungtze on the borders of Tonquin, where there is a branch of the Imperial Maritime Customs of China, is a journey of eight days over an easy road.

Yunnan City is the great gold emporium of China, for most of the gold found in China comes from the province of which it is the capital. When a rich Chinaman returns from Yunnan to another province, or is summoned on a visit to the Emperor at Peking, he carries his money in gold not silver. Gold leaf sent from Yunnan gilds the gods of Thibet and the temples and pagodas of Indo-China. No caravan returns to Burma from Western China whose spare silver has not been changed into gold leaf.

The most prominent structure within the city walls is the Heavenly Lord Hall (Tien-chu-tang), the pile of buildings which form the headquarters of the French Mission in the province of Yunnan. It was a master-stroke to secure possession of so important a site. The palace is on a higher level even than the yamen of the Viceroy, and must intercept much of the good fortune that would otherwise flow into the city. The facade of the central hall has been ornamented with a superb cross of porcelain mosaic, which is a conspicuous object from the city wall.

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