The Silken East ^
Villages are numerous along the banks ; monastery spires, thatched cottages, and here and there a pagoda in the Pagan style lend diversity to the landscape. White-winged boats, laden with the produce of the valley, speed down-stream under stress of a northerly wind, to the mightier traffic of the Irrawaddy. Haystacks on piles, like great bee-hives, built high to protect them from the floods, strike a new and individual note.
Sandy spaces, left bare by the shrinking river, are strewn with logs and derelict trees. Here the people are busy with dragging chains and cattle ; and, trunk after trunk, the harvest of the flood is
stern-wheeler on the chindwin bome aWaV illtO
The navigation of the river in its lower courses is hazardous and difficult. All the way since dawn, I have listened to the leadsman's song. For it is the turn of the year, new channels have been forming all the flood season, and all is yet new and unknown. I am travelling in the first stern-wheeler of the season, the skipper on the bridge has a reputation to lose, and the company is intolerant of mistakes. But for me, who am but an idle traveller below, there is much