Journeys to Keng Tung

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March 7th

March 7th.—From Muang Pak to Muang Loung (a few miles from Kiang Tung) 19 1/2 miles. Our bird’s-eye view of the Muang Pak valley gave us yesterday morning a false impression regarding the size of the undulations enclosed in the circle of mountains. When we came to march along amongst them, we found that they were much bigger than expected; and the highest we crossed, the Louai Leung, gave us a stiff climb.

Looking north from Muang Pak , as I noted yesterday, there was a clear gap north-west, and on all the other hillsides. This, I think, would be the line for a road to take. Our path led north and north-west, along successive low hills, passing with the upper contours from one to another, and rising all the time till the summit of the Louai Leung was reached at 9 1/2 miles, aneroid 26.8″. Some steep bits here and there during the ascent. Descent very abrupt to the Kiang Tung valley; at 12 miles a small stream is crossed and followed down a gradually broadening valley to Muang Loung, where we are encamped; the last 3 miles over undulating downs, along a cart track.

There are plenty of places for camps from 13 miles onwards. At 12 miles the small village of Chanteum was seen, 2 miles north-east; and at 17 1/2 miles the village of Me Cheem, containing 30 houses was passed, situated on the stream of the same name with extensive paddy land, rice, cows, poultry, and pigs. Muang Loung is about the same size. The Me Pak river flowed away south-east.

We are within a few miles of Kiang Tung, which we approach with rather mixed feelings. Will it be a short shrift and a bowstring, or a dress of honour and a welcome? From the country people I have seen, I should not think there was any animosity amongst them against Foreigners and two parties of Shan carriers who have accompanied us all along have been most friendly. We have come so fast that it would have been difficult for any news of me to have gone before; therefore our not being molested on the road in itself can perhaps hardly be considered a reliable test of the feelings of the people. In Kiang Tung the case will be different; a large place full of men, who have been fighting against us and some with bitter feuds against us, caused by the loss of property or relations. Amongst such a mixed crowd we shall have to be very careful and always watchful. I propose on arrival at once sending a present to, and calling on, the Prince (a young boy), and thereby putting myself under his protection as much as possible. The worst I anticipate from him (or his regent) is to be sent back quite quick to Zimme for fear of some stray fellow falling foul of us and the guilt being laid at his door. If all goes smoothly, I am negotiating for a lift on to Kiang Hung with another party of Yunnans. The Cambodia river is quite unnavigable, I hear, from Kiang Hung to Kiangtsen, so we shall have to foot that bit on our return journey. Next Entry