The Silken East
Yenan-Gyaung, " the river of stinking water," seems to have lost its odour. None at any rate assails me when we anchor for the night in the company of a number of Burmese peingaws, under the village. The last sound I hear is that of an old man's voice, chanting from a religious work, inculcating the practice of many virtues. In the early morning I ride on to the oil-fields. The road after crossing the dry sandy bed of the creek, pitted with water-holes dug by the people, climbs up to a plateau, along which it winds for a couple of miles. The soil is meagre and barren, though at the right season happily clothed with green grasses and small acacias. A wide expanse of rolling country, scarred and broken up by deep ravines, spreads away on every hand, save on the west, where the Irrawaddy lies in a long silver trough bounded by wide plains and distant mountains. It is a country that in the midsummer heats, before the rain has fallen, is wholly devoid of beauty.
The most prominent feature in the landscape, as I approach the wells, are the lofty, spider-like derricks which crown the knolls and make strange patterns against the sky, as if they were the skeletons of some extinct settlement, Under these, and scarcely visible above the soil, are the primitive works of the Burmans. Each well is marked by a splash of dark stained earth made by the refuse and wastage of the oil. These, and the patches of the purple croton, give the hill-slopes a