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Route One 

(excerpt from THE TRANS-SALWIN SHAN STATE OF KIANGTUNG by  G.J. YOUNGHUSBAND)

Kianghai (Chiang Rai) to Kiang Tung (Keng Tung)

February 27th. A short march of 6 1/4 miles to Yunglay. We did not cross Me Khok by the ford opposite the town, as it was running too deep for loaded mules after the heavy rain last night, but by a ford three-quarters of a mile down stream. The river was 100 yards wide and 2 1/2 feet deep, running strong and taking a south-east direction. It has a soft, sandy bottom in which the mules sank a good deal. The ford should be staked out, being an intricate crossing with deep water below (see diagram). With another foot of water on it, it would be impassable for mules. There are very few boats; I saw only three, but bamboo is plentiful for rafts. Read More

February 28th. — A march of 21 3/4 miles from Yunglay to Me Kham on the Me Kham river, along level open forest, overgrown with high reedy grass as before, with here and there patches of thick forest and bamboo for 12 miles. It was a northern course throughout, which meant a sloping course towards the series of low hills which bound the Kianghai plain to north. At 12 miles the path rounded the end of one of these, and after 3 miles of thick forest, issued into open forest and the valley of the Me Khey river. Read More

March 1st. — From Me Kham to Me Tsai, 19 1/2 miles. The whole way through level forest, mostly thick and high, with occasional strips of open forest with high-reed grass. A line of low hills, with rugged peaks, runs parallel to the road all day, generally about a mile distant to the west. To east and south is a broad plain with low hills, 10 miles off, and higher ones further north, 20 miles. Read More

March 2nd. — From Me Tsai a march of 16 1/2 miles to a small camp in the hills. At 2 miles the Me Thon river was first crossed and was followed to its source at 15 miles. The path was narrow and difficult, crossing and re-crossing the Me Thon constantly—sometimes up its bed and sometimes over low spurs to cut off the bends, in many places steep, and the wet clay soil made the going very hard on the mules. A few huts were passed at 8 miles. Read More

March 3rd. — Marched 16 miles to Hai Tuk (Muang Hai). The descent was continued, being much the same as the ascent yesterday, but not so difficult, and the stream followed was very small. At 6 miles the Me Oon river was crossed, a fine rapid stream, 150 yards wide and 2 1/2 feet deep, flowing over gravel and boulders, to the east. The water was very cold and clear. Onwards the descent was very slight, with occasional steep banks, up and down, which a made road could avoid. Read More

March 4th. — Hai Tuk to camp in the hills. For the first 8 miles up the valley of the Me Hok river, a fine broad stream, 120 feet wide and 3 feet deep, with a strong current flowing south-south-east, generally, and easily fordable. The ford is 2 feet deep and pebbly. The path is level and good, except for a few swampy bits, at first through high thick forest, then through open spaces of paddy-fields and high bushes; level all along. Then, leaving the valley of the Me Hok in a north-east direction (the river coming in from west), at 9 1/2 miles follow a tributary to the crest of the low hills, the north boundary of the valley, and following their crests for a couple of miles with steep bits up and down occasionally, at 12 miles drop down east into a narrow valley and follow a little stream north-west. This stream and valley come from the east, and at this point take a sharp curve to north-west. This is a very narrow stony defile, densely wooded. Read More

March 5th. — A short march of 12 miles from one camp in the hills to another. Exactly the same as usual, following a stream to near its watershed, and descending in the same way down a spur till a stream is met, and then down or up that, as the case may be. This is the stereotyped hill road of the country. We continued up the same stream as yesterday, and crossing its watershed in a north-west direction (aneroid 28.3 1/2″), dropped down into another narrow valley; and meeting the Me Hai, a rapid torrent, full of boulders, 60 feet wide and 2 1/2 feet deep, flowing south-east, we are now heading up its course. The constant crossing and re-crossing a strong current, with slippery boulders, and the constant little steep bits up and down in cutting off bends of the river, has been most severe on the mules. Read More

March 6th. — From camp in the hills to Muang Pak, 19 1/2 miles. Leaving the Me Hai river at the last camp, the path takes a steep spur of the Louai Chang mountain in a north-north-west direction, the ascent being very steep, with occasional easy bits. Only scattered trees, and at first bamboo clumps, on a bare hill, covered with dry grass. The crest of the range is reached at 3 1/2miles, aneroid 26.6″; the path then runs along it for 3 miles, when the highest peak is passed over; aneroid 26.0 1/2″. Read More

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. Read More

March 8th. — Over gently undulating bare downs for 4 1/2 miles into Kiang Tung. The track is broad and good, and used by carts. The village of Muang Loung is in three parts, on high ground, with 1,000 yards square of paddy in the middle. At 3 miles is the small village of Maiah, containing about 15 houses. The river Me Cheem flows more or less parallel to the road and is crossed twice. It is 20 feet wide and 2 feet deep, with a slow current. Read More


Sojourn at Kiang Tung (Keng Tung); and Journey back from Kiang Tung (Keng Tung) to Kianghai (Chiang Rai)

March 9th. — Met a Moulmein Burman, who has been here three years; talks a little Hindustani and a little English, and is trying to work a forest on the Salwin, eight days’ march from here. He gives the Shans of this part a bad name, the law being lightly regarded, and life little respected. With him I called on the uncle of the Prince (the Prince being away), a nice merry old gentleman, who was very much surprised to see me. Read More

March 11th. —Moungkin the Burman tells me that it is fifteen days’ journey for a footman from Kiang Tung to Mone; seven high ranges are crossed besides many small ones between this and the Salwin river. One village Muai Ping; five days out. Cross the Salwin in boats. It is about 300 feet broad. Elephants traverse this route, which is at present considered unsafe by most people. Traders have always avoided it for fear of treachery from the Shans. Read More

March 13th. —Visited Judge No. 1. It appears that Muang Yu and Muang Long are fighting over a boundary dispute; the war has lasted so far four months, and the road is closed for traders. So that settles my hash. I must go back to Kiang Hai, and from thence across to Kiangtsen (“Muang shin”, these people call it). The road to Kiang Hung is easy, i.e., I take it, not more difficult than the road from Kianghai to Kiang Tung. It takes the Yunnans six days (about 120 miles), passing en route Talaw, Muang Pang, Muang Hung, Nanoung Lang, and Kasai. Read More

March 16th. —Nothing is manufactured on a large scale by any one individual. Lead ore smelted into bars, rice paper, silk and cotton lungis by hand loom; dahs and smooth-bore guns. Read More

March 17th. —Fugitives just arrived saying the English are in Mone; this is rather rough on us, but I hope to get off to-morrow. I have been waiting for a party of Yunnans, the only safe way of getting out of this. It is difficult to imagine a more precarious position than our little party is in at present with bad news and fugitives from the front coming in daily; of course it would be all up if they knew who we were. Read More

March 19th. —Got away all serenely yesterday evening and retracing our steps to Muang Pak again. From here, as we thought there is another road to Kiang Tung, which avoids the Noai Leung hill. It heads up the Pak river valley, and crossing a low range, drops into the Kiang Tung valley. Read More

March 20th. —Re-crossed the Louai Chang (Elephant mountain) to-day. All the mules, except mine, are unladen, consequently they ran down the whole way and did the 12 miles in three hours. My ponies, though heavily laden, keep up famously. There is some devilment up, and Judh Bir and I are sitting very tight, relieving one another during the night. At the midday halt our headman, after talking some time with a Shan whom we met, came to me and said he and his caravan were going back to Kiang Tung, as he heard it was raining at Zimme. This was rather a facer for us. Luckily I owed him R200 part payment for the ponies, which I had promised to pay him at Kianghai (as it was our policy to appear very poor at Kiang Tung). Read More

March 21st. —The following description of the route from Kiang Tung to Kiang Hung was furnished by a Yunnan in our caravan. (1) Maung Ting: along level paddy, down the Kiang Tung valley, parallel to the Me Chim river. (2) Taping: crossing the Mankang mountain, about equal in size to Louai Chang, and covered with forest. Taping is situated on the river of the same name, flowing east. The Me Chim river is a tributary of it. (3) Muang Ma: mostly level, crossing one small hill about half-way. Read More

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. Read More

March 25th. —Got back to Kianghai. I might have gone across from Me Tsai to Kiangtsen, but wanted to report on this road as the most important.  Read More