Page:Mongolia, the Tangut country, and the solitudes of northern Tibet vol 2 (1876).djvu/79

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THE HIGHLANDS.

59

CHAPTER III.

THE PROVINCE OF KAN-SU.[1]

First sight of Kan-su—Marginal range—Ta-yi-gu—Sung-shan—Abundance of water—Ruined villages—A false alarm—Harsh treatment of prisoner—Gold washings—Profusion of vegetation—Another adventure—Randzemba and the breech-loaders—Mystery explained—Temple of Chertinton; its superior or abbot—We leave our camels and horses—The Rangtu-gol—Cultivated and thickly-populated plain—The Taldi—The temple of Chobsen; its images and idols; its militia garrison—Arrival at Chobsen—Drying the collections—Stagnation of trade—Start for the mountains—Description of the mountains of Kan-su—Northern and Southern chains—Snowy peaks—'Amneh' the sacred mountains—Geology—Minerals—Climate—Flora: trees, bushes, &.c.—The Rhubarb plant (Rheum palmatum)—Method of obtaining and preserving it—Artificial cultivation—Rhododendrons—Characteristic plants of Kan-su—Luxuriant meadow-land—Fauna of Kan-su—Mammals—Birds; their classification—Birds of alpine zone—Absence of water-fowl—Excessive humidity—Thunderstorms—Sodi-Soruksum; splendid view—Mount Gadjur; its sacred lake—Terror of natives—Guides refuse to proceed—Autumn—Camels suffer—Chobsen besieged—Perilous situation—Prepare for defence—Night-watch—Hire guides to Koko-nor—Consult auguries—Halt—Supplies—Departure—A critical moment—Appearance of Dungans—Mur-zasak—Tatung-gol—Koko-nor at last.


We left Ta-jing on the morning of June 20, and the same day ascended the mountains of Kan-su, where we suddenly found ourselves in a new climate surrounded by a new nature. On first entering this region we were impressed with its lofty elevation and the grand mountains rising to the limits of

  1. The name of Kan-su is derived from two of its towns—Kan-chau and Suh-chau. Yule's 'Marco Polo,' new ed. vol. i. p. 222.—M.