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March 22nd

March 22nd.— Had a visit from a leopard last night and two of the ponies got badly mauled; it was pitch dark, and we could see nothing. Anyway shooting was out of the question with the other ponies about. We are going along at a great pace, the Yunnans having unloaded mules. We are now at Chong, 42 miles north of Kianghai. Yesterday doing 24 miles and to-day again 24 miles. We passed Me Tsai 6 miles back; all the rivers are much lower than a fortnight ago, and many streams and swamps are dry. Heavy rain coming. Came across a party of Shan Kareens in the hills between Hai Tuk and Me Tsai. Wild-looking fellows, armed with crossbows, and poisoned arrows, strong, and well made. Koung and Torchalee are two of their villages. We could not see them owing to dense forest, but they were not far off the road. Rice is very scarce and dear about this part; the people won’t part with a handful. This scarcity is their own fault, for there is any amount of ground and plenty of water. The 30 odd miles between Me Tsai and Hai Tuk is almost entirely dense high forest, sloping very gradually up to a low ridge and down it the other side; following streams in both cases.

The Shans of Kiang Tung bury their dead more or less; probably less from the smell near clumps of new graves. Old graves are not visible; the structure over the grave in place of a tombstone is made of bits of bamboo with gaudy bits of papers and trumpery stuck about them. Naturally these don’t last long, and then the grave is lost. In Laos they burn their dead, unless they die a violent death—cholera being considered a violent death; when the body is buried. One would have thought the other way round would be more wholesome. Next Entry