The last half of the expedition began January 13 when we left Ta-li Fu with a caravan of thirty miles for Yung-chang, eight days' travel to the south. The mafus although they had promised faithfully to come "at daylight" did not arrive until nearly noon and in consequence it was necessary to camp at Hsia-kuan at the foot of the lake.

We improved our time there in hunting about for skins and finally purchased two fine leopards and a tiger. The latter had been brought from the Tonking frontier. There were a number of Tibetans wandering about the market place and in the morning a caravan of at least two hundred horses followed by twenty or thirty Tibetans, passed into the city while it was yet gray dawn. They were bringing tea from P'u-erh and S'su-mao in the south of the province and although they had already been nearly a month upon their journey there was still many long weeks of travel before them ere they reached the wind-blown steppes of their native land.

The trip to Yung-chang proved uninteresting and uneventful. We crossed a succession of dry, thinly forested mountains from 7,000 to 8,000 feet high which near their summits were often clothed with a thick growth of rhododendron trees. The beautiful red flowers flashed like fire balls among the green leaves, peach trees were in full blossom and in some spots the dry hills seemed about to break forth in the full glory of their spring verdure. We crossed the Mekong near a village called Shia-chai on a picturesque chain suspension bridge of a type which is not unusual in the southern and western part of the province. Several heavy iron chains are firmly fastened to huge rock piers on opposite sides of the river and the roadway formed by planks laid upon them. Although the bridge shakes and swings in a rather alarming manner when a caravan is crossing, it is perfectly safe if not too heavily loaded.

In the afternoon of January 21, we rode down the mountain to the great Yung-chang plain, and for two hours trotted over a hard dirt road. The plain is eighteen miles long by six miles wide and except for its scattered villages, is almost entirely devoted to paddy fields. The city itself includes about five thousand houses. It is exceedingly picturesque and is remarkable for its long, straight, and fairly clean streets which contrast strongly with those of the usual Chinese town. At the west, but still within the city walls, is a picturesque wooded hill occupied almost exclusively by temples.

We ourselves camped between two ponds in the courtyard of a large and exceptionally clean temple just outside the south gate of the city. It was the Chinese New Year and Wu told us that for several days at least it would be impossible to obtain another caravan or expect the natives to do any work whatever. It was a very pleasant place in which to stay although we chafed at the enforced delay, but we made good use of our time in photographing and developing motion picture film, collecting birds and making various excursions.

Chinese New Year is always interesting to a foreigner and at Yung-chang we saw many of the customs attending its celebration. It is a time of feasting and merry making and no native, if he can possibly avoid it, will work on that day. Chinese families almost always live under one roof but should any male member be absent at this season the circumstances must be exceptional to prevent him from returning to his home.

It is customary, too, for brides to revisit their mother's house at New Year's. On our way to Yung-chang and for several days after leaving the city, we were continually passing young women mounted on mules or horses and accompanied by servants returning to their homes. New clothes are a leading feature of this season and the dresses of the brides and young matrons were usually of the most unexpected hues for, according to our conception of color, the Chinese can scarcely be counted conspicuous for their good taste. Purple and blue, orange and red, pink and lavender clash distressingly, but are worn with inordinate pride.

These visits are not an unalloyed pleasure to the bride's family. Dr. Smith says in "Chinese Characteristics":

    When she goes to her mother's home, she goes on a strictly business
    basis. She takes with her it may be a quantity of sewing for her
    husband's family, which the wife's family must help her get through
    with. She is accompanied on each of these visits by as many of her
    children as possible, both to have her take care of them and to have
    them out of the way when she is not at hand to look after them, and
    most especially to have them fed at the expense of the family of the
    maternal grandmother for as long a time as possible. In regions where
    visits of this sort are frequent, and where there are many daughters in
    a family, their constant raids on the old home are a source of
    perpetual terror to the whole family, and a serious tax on the common
    resources. [Footnote: "Chinese Characteristics," by Arthur H. Smith, p.

Religious rites and ceremonies form a conspicuous part in the New Year's celebration. At this time the "Kitchen God," according to current superstition, returns to heaven to render an account of the household's behavior. The wily Chinese, however, first rubs the lips of the departing deity with candy in order to "sweeten" his report of any evil which he may have witnessed during the year.

Usually all the members of the family gather before the ancestral tablets, or should these be lacking as among many of the laboring classes, a scroll with a part of the genealogy is displayed and the spirits of the departed are appeased and honored by the burning of incense and the mumbling of incantations. While strict attention is paid to the religious observance to the dead, at New Year's the most punctilious ceremony is rendered to the living.

After the family have paid their respects to one another the younger male members go from house to house "kowtowing" to the elders who are there to receive them. The following days are devoted to visits to relatives living in the neighboring towns and villages, and this continues, an endless routine, until fourteen days later the Feast of the Lanterns puts an end to the "epoch of national leisure."

The Chinese are inveterate gamblers and at New Year's they turn feverishly to this form of amusement which is almost their only one. But they also have to think seriously about paying their debts for it is absolutely necessary for all classes and conditions of men to meet their obligations at the end of the year.

Almost everyone owes money in China. According to the clan system an individual having surplus cash is obliged to lend it (though at a high rate of interest) to any members of his family in need of help. However, a Chinaman never pays cash unless absolutely obliged to and almost never settles a debt until he has been dunned repeatedly.

The activity displayed at New Year's is ludicrous.

    Each separate individual [says Dr. Smith] is engaged in the task of
    trying to chase down the men who owe money to him, and compel them to
    pay up, and at the same time in trying to avoid the persons who are
    struggling to track him down and corkscrew from him the amount of his
    indebtedness to them! The dodges and subterfuges to which each is
    obliged to resort, increase in complexity and number with the advance
    of the season, until at the close of the month, the national activity
    is at fever heat. For if a debt is not secured then, it will go over
    till a new year, and no one knows what will be the status of a claim
    which has actually contrived to cheat the annual Day of Judgment. In
    spite of the excellent Chinese habit of making the close of a year a
    grand clearing-house for all debts, Chinese human nature is too much
    for Chinese custom, and there are many of these postponed debts which
    are a grief of mind to many a Chinese creditor.

    The Chinese are at once the most practical and the most sentimental of
    the human race. New Year must not be violated by duns for debts, and
    the debts must be collected New Year though it be. For this reason
    one sometimes sees an urgent creditor going about early on the first
    day of the year carrying a lantern looking for his creditor [=debtor].
    His artificial light shows that by a social fiction the sun has not yet
    risen, it is still yesterday and the debt can still be claimed....

    We have but to imagine the application of the principles which we have
    named, to the whole Chinese Empire, and we get new light upon the
    nature of the Chinese New Year festivities. They are a time of
    rejoicing, but there is no rejoicing so keen as that of a ruined
    debtor, who has succeeded by shrewd devices in avoiding the most
    relentless of his creditors and has thus postponed his ruin for at
    least another twelve months.

    For, once past the narrow strait at the end of the year, the debtor
    finds himself again in the broad and peaceful waters, where he cannot
    be molested. Even should his creditors meet him on New Year's day,
    there could be no possibility of mentioning the fact of the previous
    day's disgraceful flight and concealment, or indeed of alluding to
    business at all, for this would not be "good form" and to the Chinese
    "Good Form" (otherwise known as custom), is the chief national
    divinity. [Footnote: "Village Life in China," by Arthur H. Smith, 1907,
    pp. 208-209.]

Yung-chang appears to be almost entirely inhabited by Chinese and in no part of the province did we see foot-binding more in evidence. Practically every woman and girl, young or old, regardless of her station in life was crippled in this brutal way. The women wear long full coats with flaring skirts which hang straight from their shoulders to their knees. When the trousers are tightly wrapped about their shrunken ankles, they look in a side view exactly like huge umbrellas.

One day we visited a cave thirty li north of the city where we hoped to find new bats. A beautiful little temple has been built over the entrance to the cavern which does not extend more than forty or fifty feet into the rock. But twenty li south of Yung-chang, just beyond the village of A-shih-wo, there is an enormous cave which is reported to extend entirely through the hill. Whether or not this is true we can not say for although we explored it in part we did not reach the end. The central corridor is about thirty feet wide and at least sixty or seventy high. We followed the main gallery for a long distance, and turned back at a branch which led off at a sharp angle. We were not equipped with sufficient candles to pursue the exploration more extensively and did not have time to visit it again. The cave contained some beautiful stalactites of considerable size, but the limestone was a dull lead color. We found only one bat and these animals appear not to have used it extensively since there was little sign upon the floor.

At Yuang-chang we saw water buffaloes for the first time in Yuen-nan but found them to be in universal use farther to the south and west. The huge brutes are as docile as a kitten in the hands of the smallest native child but they do not like foreigners and discretion is the better part of valor where they are concerned.

Water buffaloes are only employed for work in the rice fields but Chinese cows are used as burden bearers in this part of the province. Such caravans travel much more slowly than do mule trains although the animals are not loaded as heavily. Two or three of the leading cows usually carry upon their backs large bells hung in wooden frameworks and the music is by no means unmelodious when heard at a distance. Marco Polo, the great Venetian traveler, refers to Yung-chang as "Vochang." His account of a battle which was fought in its vicinity in the year 1272 between the King of Burma and Bengal and one of Kublai Khan's generals is so interesting that I am quoting it below:

    When the king of Mien [Burma] and Bangala [Bengal], in India, who
    was powerful in the number of his subjects, in extent of territory,
    and in wealth, heard that an army of Tartars had arrived at Vochang
    [Yung-chang] he took the resolution of advancing immediately to attack
    it, in order that by its destruction the grand khan should be deterred
    from again attempting to station a force upon the borders of his
    dominions. For this purpose he assembled a very large army, including
    a multitude of elephants (an animal with which his country abounds),
    upon whose backs were placed battlements or castles, of wood, capable
    of containing to the number of twelve or sixteen in each. With these,
    and a numerous army of horse and foot, he took the road to Vochang,
    where the grand khan's army lay, and encamping at no great distance
    from it, intended to give his troops a few days of rest.

    As soon as the approach of the king of Mien, with so great a force, was
    known to Nestardin, who commanded the troops of the grand khan,
    although a brave and able officer, he felt much alarmed, not having
    under his orders more than twelve thousand men (veterans, indeed, and
    valiant soldiers); whereas the enemy had sixty thousand, besides the
    elephants armed as has been described. He did not, however, betray any
    sign of apprehension, but descending into the plain of Vochang, took a
    position in which his flank was covered by a thick wood of large trees,
    whither, in case of a furious charge by the elephants, which his troops
    might not be able to sustain, they could retire, and from thence, in
    security, annoy them with their arrows....

    Upon the king of Mien's learning that the Tartars had descended into
    the plain, he immediately put his army in motion, took up his ground at
    the distance of about a mile from the enemy, and made a disposition of
    his force, placing the elephants in the front, and the cavalry and
    infantry, in two extended wings, in their rear, but leaving between
    them a considerable interval. Here he took his own station, and
    proceeded to animate his men and encourage them to fight valiantly,
    assuring them of victory, as well from the superiority of their
    numbers, being four to one, as from their formidable body of armed
    elephants, whose shock the enemy, who had never before been engaged
    with such combatants, could by no means resist. Then giving orders for
    sounding a prodigious number of warlike instruments, he advanced boldly
    with his whole army towards that of the Tartars, which remained firm,
    making no movement, but suffering them to approach their entrenchments.

    They then rushed out with great spirit and the utmost eagerness to
    engage; but it was soon found that the Tartar horses, unused to the
    sight of such huge animals, with their castles, were terrified, and by
    wheeling about endeavored to fly; nor could their riders by any
    exertions restrain them, whilst the king, with the whole of his forces,
    was every moment gaining ground. As soon as the prudent commander
    perceived this unexpected disorder, without losing his presence of
    mind, he instantly adopted the measure of ordering his men to dismount
    and their horses to be taken into the wood, where they were fastened to
    the trees.

    When dismounted, the men without loss of time, advanced on foot towards
    the line of elephants, and commenced a brisk discharge of arrows;
    whilst, on the other side, those who were stationed in the castles, and
    the rest of the king's army, shot volleys in return with great
    activity; but their arrows did not make the same impression as those of
    the Tartars, whose bows were drawn with a stronger arm. So incessant
    were the discharges of the latter, and all their weapons (according to
    the instructions of their commander) being directed against the
    elephants, these were soon covered with arrows, and, suddenly giving
    way, fell back upon their own people in the rear, who were thereby
    thrown into confusion. It soon became impossible for their drivers to
    manage them, either by force or address. Smarting under the pain of
    their wounds, and terrified by the shouting of the assailants, they
    were no longer governable, but without guidance or control ran about in
    all directions, until at length, impelled by rage and fear, they rushed
    into a part of the wood not occupied by the Tartars. The consequence of
    this was, that from the closeness of the branches of large trees, they
    broke, with loud crashes, the battlements or castles that were upon
    their backs, and involved in the destruction those who sat upon them.

    Upon seeing the rout of the elephants the Tartars acquired fresh
    courage, and filing off by detachments, with perfect order and
    regularity, they remounted their horses, and joined their several
    divisions, when a sanguinary and dreadful combat was renewed. On the
    part of the king's troops there was no want of valor, and he himself
    went amongst the ranks entreating them to stand firm, and not to be
    alarmed by the accident that had befallen the elephants. But the
    Tartars by their consummate skill in archery, were too powerful for
    them, and galled them the more exceedingly, from their not being
    provided with such armor as was worn by the former.

    The arrows having been expended on both sides, the men grasped their
    swords and iron maces, and violently encountered each other. Then in an
    instant were to be seen many horrible wounds, limbs dismembered, and
    multitudes falling to the ground, maimed and dying; with such effusion
    of blood as was dreadful to behold. So great also was the clangor of
    arms, and such the shoutings and the shrieks, that the noise seemed to
    ascend to the skies. The king of Mien, acting as became a valiant
    chief, was present wherever the greatest danger appeared, animating his
    soldiers, and beseeching them to maintain their ground with resolution.
    He ordered fresh squadrons from the reserve to advance to the support
    of those that were exhausted; but perceiving at length that it was
    impossible any longer to sustain the conflict or to withstand the
    impetuosity of the Tartars, the greater part of his troops being either
    killed or wounded, and all the field covered with the carcasses of men
    and horses, whilst those who survived were beginning to give way, he
    also found himself compelled to take to flight with the wreck of his
    army, numbers of whom were afterwards slain in the pursuit....

    The Tartars having collected their force after the slaughter of the
    enemy, returned towards the wood into which the elephants had fled for
    shelter, in order to take possession of them, where they found that the
    men who had escaped from the overthrow were employed in cutting down
    trees and barricading the passages, with the intent of defending
    themselves. But their ramparts were soon demolished by the Tartars, who
    slew many of them, and with the assistance of the persons accustomed to
    the management of the elephants, they possessed themselves of these to
    the number of two hundred or more. From the period of this battle the
    grand khan has always chosen to employ elephants in his armies, which
    before that time he had not done. The consequences of the victory were,
    that he acquired possession of the whole of the territories of the king
    of Bangala and Mien, and annexed them to his dominions. [Footnote: "The
    Travels of Marco Polo the Venetian." Everyman's Library. J.M. Dent     Sons, Ltd., London; pp. 253-256.]