FROM TONKIN TO INDIA
terror of tigers, which even invaded their hovels, and had recently carried off two men: we ourselves met many traces of these animals for several days. Our surroundings, however, improved by the 19th (March), when we were on the descent into the valley of the La-niou-ho, an affluent of the Lysiang-kiang, or Black River; within five miles of which gold was said to be found. The fog
cleared off; instead of forest, we had rice or poppy fields, terraced villages amid Indian fig-trees festooned with gigantic creepers or covered with hairy orchids, and open tracts of moss - grown rocks and fern. The air was scented with orange blossom and alive with sethyopiga of brilliant hue: through such scenery, typical of Upper Tonkin, we made the stage to Ngapa. One could not but be struck with the degradation of the women of this district: with scarcely a rag to cover them, they were here, as in Thibet, little better than beasts of burden, the hewers of wood and drawers of water.
A cotton caravan met us here, coming from a region beyond the tea plantations, eighteen days distant. The cotton is bought at eight taels the pecul,1 and sold for fourteen. This commodity might with advantage be sent by us from Tonkin.
1 Pecul = about 133 lbs.
Woman at Ngapa.Woman at Ngapa.