Page:Mongolia, the Tangut country, and the solitudes of northern Tibet vol 2 (1876).djvu/285

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THE ALA-SHAN MOUNTAINS.

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Din yuan-ing, having gone to Peking, whence they would not return before the autumn.

In accordance with the plan we had previously sketched, we purposed marching straight to Urga from Din-yuan-ing, by way of the Central Gobi, a route which had never before been travelled by any European, and was therefore of the greatest scientific interest. Before starting, however, we determined to rest, and to take this opportunity of exploring more thoroughly than last time the mountains of Ala-shan.

These were not so deserted as they had been when we saw them in 1871, for, upon the cessation of brigandage, many of the Mongols had returned hither; ruined temples were being restored; and hundreds of Chinese from Ning-hia were engaged in felling timber. The difficulty was to find a ravine untenanted by some of these people, and we were obliged after all to choose one in which there was no water, preferring to be two miles away from such a necessary to abiding cheek by jowl with either Mongols or Chinamen.[1] We sent our camels out to grass about thirty miles from Din-yuan-ing, keeping with us only the two horses, which took it in turn to fetch water.

Here we stayed three weeks, and finally came to the conclusion that the mountains of Ala-shan are rich neither in flora nor in fauna. As regards the

  1. The ravine in which we were encamped is eleven miles WSW. of Din-yuan-ing.