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T. lobsang rampa doctor from lhasa

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Into the Unknown

NEVER before had I felt so cold, so hopeless, and so miserable. Even in the desolate wastes of the Chang Tang Highlands, 20,000 feet or more above sea level, where the grit-laden, sub-zero winds whipped and cut to bloodstained tatters any exposed skin, I had been warmer than now; there the cold was not so bitter as the fearsome chill I felt at my heart. I was leaving my beloved Lhasa. As I turned and saw behind me diminutive figures on the golden roofs of the Potala, and above them a solitary kite dipped and bobbed in the slight breeze, dipped and bobbed as if to say, “Farewell, your days of kite flying are over now, on to more serious matters.” To me that kite was a symbol, a kite up in the immensity of blue, held to its home by a thin cord. I was going off to the immensity of the world beyond Tibet, held by the thin cord of my love for Lhasa. I was going to the strange, terrible world beyond my peaceful land. I was indeed sick at heart as I turned my back upon my home and with my fellows rode off into that great unknown. They too were unhappy, but they had the consolation of knowing that after leaving me at Chungking, 1,000 miles away, they could start off home. They would return, and on their journey back they would have the great consolation of knowing that every step they took brought them nearer to home. I had to continue ever on to strange lands, to strange people, and to stranger and stranger experiences.

The prophecy made about my future when I was seven years old had said that I should enter a lamasery and be trained first as a chela, then on to the state of a trappa, and so on, until in the fullness of time I could pass the examination of a lama. From that point, so the astrologers said, I was to leave Tibet, leave my home, leave all that I loved, and go out into what we termed barbarian China. I would journey to Chungking and study to become a doctor and surgeon. According to the Priest Astrologers I would be involved in wars, I would be a prisoner of strange peoples and I would have to rise above all temptation, all suffering, to bring help to those in need. They told me that my life would be hard, that suffering and pain and ingratitude would be my constant companions. How right they were!

So with these thoughts in my mind—not by any means cheerful thoughts—I gave the order to carry on forward. As a precaution when we were just beyond sight of Lhasa we dismounted from our horses and made sure that they were comfortable, that the saddles were not too tight, nor yet too loose. Our horses were to be our constant friends on the journey, and we had to look after them at least as well as we looked after ourselves. With that settled and with the consolation of knowing that our horses were at ease, we remounted and resolutely set our gaze forward, and rode on.

It was early in 1927 when we left Lhasa and made our slow, slow way to Chotang on the river Brahmaputra. We had had many discussions as to the most suitable route, and this, by way of the river and Kanting, was recommended as being the most suitable. The Brahmaputra is a river which I know well, having flown above one of its sources in a range on the Himalayas when I had been fortunate enough to fly a man-lifting kite. We, in Tibet, regarded the river with reverence, but nothing like the reverence with which it was regarded elsewhere. Hundreds of miles away where it rushed down to the Bay of Bengal, it was deemed to be sacred, almost as sacred as Benares. It was the Brahmaputra, so we were told, which made the Bay of Bengal. In the early days of history the river was swift, and deep too, and as it rushed down almost in a straight line from the mountains it scoured away at the soft soil and made the wonderful bay, the glorious bay. We followed the river through the mountain passes into Sikang. In the old days, the happy days, when I was very young, Sikang was part of Tibet, a province of Tibet. Then the British made an incursion into Lhasa. After that the Chinese were encouraged to invade and so they captured Sikang. With murderous intent they walked into that part of our country, killing, raping, and pillaging, and they took Sikang to themselves. They staffed it with Chinese officials, officials who had lost favour elsewhere were sent to Sikang as a form of punishment. Unfortunately for them the Chinese government gave them no support. They had to manage the best way they could. We found that these Chinese officials were mere puppets, helpless men, ineffectual, men at whom Tibetans laughed. Of course, at times we pretended to obey the Chinese officials, but that was mere politeness. When their back was turned we went our own way.

Our journey continued day after day. We made our halts convenient to bring us to a lamasery where we could stay the night. As I was a lama, indeed an abbot, a Recognised Incarnation, we were given the very best welcome which the monks could manage. Furthermore I was travelling under the personal protection of the Dalai Lama, and that indeed counted heavily.

We made our way to Kanting. This is a very famous market town, well known for its sale of yaks, but particularly famous as an exporting centre for the brick-tea which we found so palatable in Tibet. This tea was brought from China, it was not just ordinary tea leaves but more or less a chemical concoction. It had tea, bits of twig, soda, saltpetre, and a few other things in it because in Tibet food was not the plentiful commodity that it is in some other parts of the world, and our tea had to act as a form of soup as well as drink. In Kanting the tea is mixed and made into blocks or bricks as they are more commonly called. These bricks were such a size and weight that they could be loaded upon horses, and later upon the yaks which would carry them over the high mountain ranges to Lhasa where they would be sold in the market and transported throughout Tibet.

Tea bricks had to be of special size and shape, but they also had to be specially packed so that if a horse stumbled in a mountain fold and tipped the tea into a river no harm would be done. These bricks were packed tightly into a green hide, or, as it is sometimes called, a raw hide, and were then quickly dipped in water. After this they would be put on rocks in the sun to dry. As they dried they shrank, they shrank amazingly, and they absolutely compressed the contents. In drying they took on a brown appearance and they were as hard as bakelite but very much stronger. Any of these hides when dried could be rolled down a mountainside and land safely and unharmed. It could be tipped into a river, and perhaps stay there a couple of days. When fished out and dried everything would be intact, no water would have entered so nothing would be spoilt. Our bricks of tea in their dried hide cases were among the most hygienic packages in the world. Tea, by the way, was often used as currency. A trader who had no money with him could break off a lump of tea and barter it. There was never any need to bother about cash while one had tea bricks.

Kanting impressed us with its businesslike turmoil. We were used only to our own Lhasa, but here in Kanting there were peoples from a lot of countries, from as far away as Japan, from India, Burma, and the nomad people from beyond the Takla mountains. We wandered in the market place, mixed with the traders and heard the strange voices and the different languages. We rubbed shoulders with monks of the different religions, of the Zen sect, and others. And then, marveling at the novelty of it all, we made our way to a small lamasery on the road beyond Kanting. Here we were expected. In fact, our hosts were getting rather worried that we had not arrived. We soon told them that we had been looking in the market place, and listening to the market gossip. The abbot in charge made us very welcome and listened with avidity to our tales of Tibet, listened to the news we gave, for we came from the seat of learning, the Potala, and we were the men who had been in the Chang Tang Highlands and seen great marvels. Our fame had indeed preceded us.

Early in the morning after we had attended the service in the temple we took to the road again on our horses, carrying a small amount of food, tsampa, with us. The road was a mere earth track high up on the sides of a gorge. Down below there were trees, more trees than any of us had ever seen before. Some were partly hidden by the mist set up by the spray of a waterfall. Giant rhododendrons also covered the gorge while the ground itself was carpeted with varied-hued flowers, small mountain flowers which scented the air and added colour to the scene. We, though, were oppressed and miserable, miserable at the thought of leaving home and oppressed by the density of the air. All the time we were getting lower and lower, and we were finding it more and more difficult to breathe. There was another difficulty with which we were afflicted; in Tibet where the air is thin water boils at a lower temperature and in the higher places we could drink tea which was actually boiling. We kept our tea and water on the fire until all the bubbles gave warning that it was ready to drink. At first, in this lower land, we suffered greatly from scalded lips as we tried to gauge the temperature of the water. It was our habit to drink the tea straight from the fire. We had to do so in Tibet otherwise the bitter cold would rob our tea of all heat. At that time we had no knowledge that the denser air would affect the boiling point, nor did it occur to us that we could wait for the boiling water to cool with no danger of it freezing.

We were seriously upset by the difficulty in breathing, by the weight of air pressing on our chests and on our lungs. At first we thought it was emotion at leaving our beloved Tibet, but later we found that we were being suffocated, drowned by air. Never before had any of us been below 10,000 feet. Lhasa itself is 12,000 feet high. Frequently we were living at even greater heights, as when we went to the Chang Tang Highlands where we were above 20,000 feet. We had heard many tales in the past about Tibetans who had left Lhasa to go and seek their fortunes in the lowlands. Rumour said that they had died after months of misery with shattered lungs. The old wives' tales of the Holy City had definitely made much ado of the statement that those who left Lhasa to go to the lower lands went to their painful deaths. I knew that there was no truth in that because my own parents had been to Shanghai where they had much property, they had been there and had returned safely. I had had little to do with my parents because they were such busy people and in such a high position that they had no time for us children. My information had been gleaned from servants. But now I was seriously perturbed about the feelings we were experiencing; our lungs felt scorched, we felt that we had iron bands about our chests keeping us from breathing. Each breath was a shuddering effort, and if we moved too quickly pains, like pains of fire, shot through us. As we journeyed on, getting lower and lower, the air became thicker and the temperature warmer. It was a terrible climate for us. In Lhasa, in Tibet, the weather had been very cold indeed, but a dry cold, a healthy cold, and in conditions like that temperature mattered little, but now, in this thick air with so much moisture, we were almost at our wits' end to keep going. At one time the others tried to persuade me to order an about-turn, a return to Lhasa, saying that we would all die if we persisted in our foolhardy venture, but I, mindful of the prophecy, would have none of it. And so we journeyed on. As the temperature became warmer we became dizzy, intoxicated almost, and we seemed to have trouble with our eyes. We could not see as far as usual, nor so clearly, and our judgment of distances was all wrong. Much later I found the explanation. In Tibet there is the purest and cleanest air in the world, one can see for fifty miles or more, and as clearly as if it were but ten. Here, in the dense air of the lowlands, we could not see so far, and what we could see was distorted by the very thickness of the air and its impurities.

For many days we journeyed along, getting lower and lower, travelling through forests containing more trees than any of us had ever dreamed existed. There is not much wood in Tibet, not many trees, and for a time we could not resist getting off our horses and running to the different sorts of trees, touching them, smelling them. They were all so strange to us and in such plentitude. The rhododendrons of course were familiar because we had many rhododendrons in Tibet. Rhododendron blossom was, in fact, a luxury article of food when properly prepared. We rode on, marveling at all we saw, marveling at the difference between this and our home. I cannot say how long we took, how many days or how many hours, because such things did not interest us at all. We had plenty of time, we knew nothing of the scurry and bustle of civilization, nor if we had known would we have cared.

We rode about eight or ten hours a day and we stayed our nights at convenient lamaseries. They were not all of our own form of Buddhism, but no matter, we were always welcome. With us, with the real Buddhists of the East, there is no rivalry, no friction or rancor, and a traveler was always welcome. As was our custom we took part in all the services while we were there. We lost no opportunity of conversing with the monks who were so keen to welcome us. Many were the strange tales they told us about the changing conditions in China; about how the old order of peace was changing, how the Russians, “the men of the bear,” were trying to indoctrinate the Chinese with political ideals, which to us, seemed completely wrong. It seemed to us that what the Russians were preaching was “What is yours, is mine; what is mine is staying mine!” The Japanese, as well, we were told, were making trouble in various parts of China. It appeared to be a question of over-population. Japan was producing too many children, and producing too little food, so—they were trying to invade peaceful peoples, trying to steal from them, as if only the Japanese mattered.

At last we left Sikang, and crossed the border into Szechwan. A few days more, and we came to the banks of the river Yangtze. Here, at a little village, we stopped late one afternoon. We stopped, not because we had got to our destination for the night, but because there was a milling throng ahead of us, a meeting of some sort. We edged our way forward, and, all of us being rather bulky, we had no difficulty at all in pushing our way to the front of the group. A tall white man was there, standing on an ox cart, gesticulating, telling of the wonders of Communism, trying to exhort the peasants to rise up and kill the landowners. He was waving about papers with pictures on, showing a sharp-featured, bearded man, calling him the Savior of the world. But we were not impressed with the picture of Lenin, nor with the man's talk. We turned away in disgust, and carried on for a few miles more to the lamasery at which we were going to stay the night.

There were lamaseries in various parts of China as well as the Chinese monasteries and temples. For some people, particularly in Sikang, Szechwan, or Chinghai, prefer the form of Buddhism of Tibet, and so our lamaseries were there to teach those who were in need of our assistance. We never sought converts, we never asked people to join us, for we believed that all men were free to choose. We had no love of those missionaries who went about ranting that one had to join such and such a religion to be saved. We knew that when a person wanted to become a lamaist they would become so without any persuading on our part. We knew how we had laughed at missionaries who came to Tibet, who came to China; it was a standing joke that people would pretend to be converted just to get the gifts and the other, so-called, advantages which the missionaries were dispensing. And another thing, Tibetans and the old order of Chinese were polite folk, they tried to cheer the missionaries, tried to make them believe that they were having some success, but never for one moment did we believe what they were telling us. We knew that they had their belief, but we preferred to keep our own.

We traveled on and followed the course of the river Yangtse, the river which I was later to know so well, because this was a pleasanter path. We were fascinated in watching the vessels on the river. We had never seen boats before although some of us had seen pictures of them, and I had once seen a steam ship in a special clairvoyant session which I had had with my Guide, the Lama Mingyar Dondup. But that is detailed later in this book. In Tibet our boatmen used coracles. These were very light frames covered with yak-skin, and they would carry perhaps four or five passengers besides the boatman. Often an unpaying passenger would be the goat which was the boatman's pet, but which also did its share on land because the boatman would load his own personal belongings, his bundle or his blankets on to the goat's back while he would shoulder the coracle and climb the rocks to avoid the rapids which otherwise would wreck his boat. Sometimes a farmer who wanted to cross a river would use a goatskin or a yak-skin which had legs and other openings sealed off. He would use this contraption in much the same way as Westerners use water-wings. But now, we were interested to see real boats with sails, lateen sails, flapping in the wind.

One day we drew to a halt near some shallows. We were intrigued; two men were walking in the river with a long net between them. Ahead of them two more men were beating the water with sticks and yelling horribly. We thought at first that these were madmen, and the ones with the net were following them to try to take them into custody. We watched, and then, at a signal from one of the men, the clamour stopped and the two with the net walked together so that their paths crossed. Between them they drew taut the two ends of the net, and dragged it ashore. Safely up on the sandy banks they tipped the net out and pounds and pounds of shining, struggling fish dropped to the ground. It shocked us because we never killed. We believed that it was very wrong to kill any living creature. In our own rivers in Tibet fish would come to touch a hand stretched in the water toward them. They would take food from one's hands. They had no fear whatever of man, and were often pets. But here, in China, they were just food. We wondered how these Chinese could claim to be Buddhists when they so blatantly killed for their own gain.

We had dallied too long; we had sat by the side of the river for an hour, perhaps two hours, and we were unable to reach a lamasery that night. We shrugged our shoulders in resignation and prepared to camp by the side of the path. A little to the left, however, was a secluded grove of trees with the river running through and we made our way there, and dismounted, tethering our horses so that they could feed on the quite—to us—luxuriant herbage. It was a simple matter to gather sticks and to light a fire, then we boiled our tea, and ate our tsampa. For a time we sat around the fire, talking of Tibet, talking of what we had seen on our journey, and of our thoughts for the future. One by one my companions yawned, turned away and rolled themselves into the blankets and fell asleep. At last, as the glowing embers turned to blackness, I too rolled in my blanket and lay down, but not to sleep. I thought of all the hardships I had undergone. I thought of leaving my home at the age of seven, of entering a lamasery, of the hardships, the severe training. I thought of my expeditions to the Highlands, and further North to the great Chang Tang Highlands. I thought also of the Inmost One, as we called the Dalai Lama, and then inevitably of my beloved Guide, the Lama Mingyar Dondup. I felt sick with apprehension, heartbroken, and then it seemed as if the countryside was lit up as if by the noonday sun. I looked in amazement, and I saw my Guide standing before me. “Lobsang! Lobsang!” he exclaimed, “Why are you so downhearted? Have you forgotten? Iron ore may think itself senselessly tortured in the furnace, but as the tempered steel blade looks back it knows better. You have had a hard time, Lobsang, but it is all for a good purpose. This, as we have so often discussed, is merely a world of illusion, a world of dreams. You have many hardships yet to face, many hard tests, but you will triumph, you will overcome them, and in the end you will accomplish the task which you have set out to do.” I rubbed my eyes, then it occurred to me, of course, the Lama Mingyar Dondup had come to me by astral travelling. I had often done things like that myself, but this was so unexpected, it showed me so plainly that he was thinking of me all the time, helping me with his thoughts.

For some time we communed with the past, dwelling upon my weaknesses, and feeling, with a transient warm glow of happiness, the many happy moments when we had been together, like father and son. He showed me, by mental pictures, some of the hardships to be encountered and—more happily—the eventual success which would come to me in spite of all attempts to prevent it. After an indeterminate time, the golden glow faded as my Guide reiterated his final words of hope and encouragement. With them as my predominant thoughts, I rolled over beneath the stars in the frozen night sky, and eventually fell asleep.

The next morning we were awake early and prepared our breakfast. As was our custom we held our morning service which I, as the senior ecclesiastical member, conducted, and then we continued our journey along the beaten earth track by the side of the river.

About midday the river bore away to the right and the path went straight ahead; we followed it. It ended at what to us appeared to be a very wide road. Actually, as I know now, it was in fact a second class road, but we had never before seen a man-made road of this type. We rode along it, marveling at the texture of it, marveling at the comfort of not having to look out for roots to avoid, not having to look for pot-holes. We jogged along thinking that in two or three more days we would be at Chungking. Then, something about the atmosphere, something unexplained, made us glance at each other uneasily. One of us happened to look up to the far horizon. Then he stood upright in his stirrups in alarm, wide-eyed and gesticulating. “Look!” he said. “A dust storm is approaching.” He pointed ahead to where there was most certainly a grey-black cloud approaching at considerable speed. In Tibet there are dust clouds; clouds of grit-laden air travelling at perhaps eighty miles an hour or more, from which all people except the yak must shelter. The yak's thick wool protects it from harm, but all other creatures, particularly humans, are lacerated and made to bleed by the stinging grit which scratches the face and hands. We were certainly disconcerted because this was the first dust storm we had seen since leaving Tibet, and we looked about us to see where we could shelter. But there did not appear to be anything suitable for us. To our consternation we became aware that the approaching cloud was accompanied by a most strange sound, a sound stranger than any of us had ever heard before; something like a temple trumpet being played by a tone-deaf learner, or, we thought miserably, like the legions of the devil marching upon us. Thrum-thrum-thrum, it went. Rapidly the roar increased and became stranger and stranger. There were clatters and rattles with it. We were almost too frightened to do anything, almost too frightened to think. The dust cloud sped toward us faster and faster. We were terrified and almost paralyzed with fright. We thought again of the dust clouds in Tibet, but most certainly none had ever come at us with a roar. In panic we looked again to find some place of shelter, same place where we should be protected from this terrible storm which was coming upon us. Our horses were much quicker than we at making up their minds where to go; they broke formation, they reared and they bucked. I had an impression of flying hooves, and my horse gave a most ferocious whinny, and seemed to bend in the middle. There was a strange tug, and a feeling that something had broken. “Oh, my leg is torn off!” I thought. Then my horse and I parted company. I sailed through the air in an arc, and landed flat on my back at the side of the road, stunned. Rapidly the dust cloud came nearer, and I saw inside it the Devil himself, a roaring black monster, shaking and shuddering. It came and it passed. Flat on my back, head awhirl, I saw my first motor vehicle, a battered old ex-American lorry, travelling at its noisy top speed, driven by a grinning Chinese. The stench from it! Devil's breath, we called it later. A mixture of petrol, oil, and manure; the load of manure which it carried was gradually being bounced off, some of it was being jolted over the side to land with a splat beside me. With a clatter and a roar the lorry whizzed by, leaving clouds of choking dust, and a plume of black smoke from the exhaust. Soon it became a weaving dot in the distance, weaving from side to side of the road, the noise abated and there was no sound.

I looked about me in the silence. There was no sign of my companions; perhaps even worse, there was no sign of the horse! I was still trying to disentangle myself because the broken part of the girth had twisted round my legs, when the others appeared, one by one, looking shamefaced and highly nervous in case any other of these roaring demons should appear. We still did not quite know what we had seen. It was all too quick and the clouds of dust had obscured so much. The others sheepishly dismounted, and helped me to brush the dust of the road off my garments. At last I was presentable again but—where was that horse? My companions had come from all directions, yet not one of them had seen my mount. We looked about, we called, we looked in the dust for any sign of hoof marks, but we could find no trace whatever. It seemed to us that the wretched animal must have jumped into the lorry and been carried off. No, we could find no trace whatever and we sat down by the side of the road to discuss what to do. One of my companions offered to stay at a nearby hut, so I could have his horse, and he would get back on his companions' return, when I should have been left at Chungking. But I would have none of this. I knew as well as he did that he wanted a rest and it did not solve the mystery of the missing horse.

My companions' horses whinnied and from a nearby Chinese peasant's hut a horse whinnied in reply. It was soon stifled as if by a hand over the nostrils. Light dawned upon us. We looked at each other and prepared for instant action. Now, why should a horse be inside that poverty-stricken hut? That ramshackle building was not the home of a man who would own a horse. Obviously the horse was being concealed from us. We jumped to our feet and looked about us for stout clubs. Finding no suitable weapons about we cut them from the nearby trees, and then we set off to the hut, a determined troop, suspicious of what was happening. The door was a rickety affair with thongs for hinges. Our polite knocking produced no reply. There was dead silence, not a sound. Our rude demands for entry elicited no response. Yet, previously a horse had whinnied and its whinny had been suppressed. So we made a fierce onslaught on that door. For a short time it withstood our efforts, then, as the thong hinges showed signs of parting and the door tilted and appeared to be on the point of collapse, it was hastily thrown open. Inside was a wizened Chinaman, his face contorted with terror. It was a wretched hovel, filthy, and the owner was a tattered rag-bag of a man. But that was not what interested us. Inside was my horse with a bag round its muzzle to keep it quiet. We were not at all pleased with the Chinese peasant and indicated our disapproval in no uncertain manner. Under the pressure of our interrogation he admitted that he had tried to steal the horse from us. We, he said, were rich monks and could afford to lose a horse or two. He was just a poor peasant. By the look of him he thought we were going to kill him. We must have looked fierce. We had traveled perhaps eight hundred miles and we were tired and rough looking. However, we had no unpleasant designs upon him. Our combined knowledge of Chinese was entirely adequate to enable us to convey to him our opinion of his act, his probable end in this life, and his undoubted destination in the next. With that off our minds and most certainly on his, we resaddled the horse, being very careful that the girth band was secure, and again we set off for Chungking.

That night we stayed at a small lamasery, very small. It had six monks in it, but we were given every hospitality. The night after was the last night of our long journey. We came to a lamasery where, as the representatives of the Inmost One, we were greeted with that courtesy which we had come to consider as our due. Again we were given food and accommodation; we took part in their temple services, and talked far into the night about events in Tibet, about our journeys to the great Northern Highlands and about the Dalai Lama. I was very gratified to know that even here my Guide, the Lama Mingyar Dondup, was well known. I was interested too to meet a Japanese monk who had been to Lhasa and studied our form of Buddhism which is so different from that of the Zen.

There was much talk of impending changes in China, of revolution, of a new order, an order in which all the landowners were to be thrown out and illiterate peasants were to take their place. Russian agents were everywhere promising wonders, accomplishing nothing, nothing constructive. These Russians, to our mind, were agents of the Devil, disrupting, corrupting, like plague destroying a body. The incense burned low and was replenished. It burned low again and again, and was replenished. We talked on; our talk was full of foreboding for the dire changes which were taking place. Men's values were distorted, matters of the soul were not considered to be valuable nowadays, but only transient power. The world was a very sick place. The stars rolled high in the sky. We talked on and at last one by one we lay down where we were to sleep. In the morning we knew our journey would come to an end. My journey for the time being, but my companions would return to Tibet leaving me alone in a strange unkind world where might was right. Sleep did not come to me easily that last night.

In the morning after the usual temple services and a very good meal we set out again on the road to Chungking, our horses much refreshed. Traffic was more numerous now. Lorries and various forms of wheeled vehicles abounded. Our horses were restive, frightened. They were not accustomed to the noise of all these vehicles and the smell of burnt petrol was a constant irritant to them. It was indeed an effort to stay in our high peaked saddles.

We were interested to see people working in the fields, the terraced fields, fertilized with human excreta. The people were clad in blue, the blue of China. They all seemed to be old, and they were very tired. They moved listlessly as if life was too great a burden for them or as if the spirit was crushed and there was nothing more worth living and striving for. Men, women and children worked together. We rode on, still following the course of the river which we had rejoined some miles back. At last we came in sight of the high cliffs on which the old city of Chungking was built. To us this was the very first sight of any city of note outside Tibet. We stopped and gazed in fascination, but my gaze held not a little dread of the new life which lay ahead before me.

In Tibet I had been a power in the land through my rank, through my accomplishments and my close association with the Dalai Lama. Now, I had come to a foreign city as a student. It reminded me all too vividly of the hardships of my early days. So it was not with happiness that I gazed at the scene ahead. This, I well knew, was but a step on the long, long track, the track which would lead me to hardships, to strange countries, stranger even than China, to the West where men worshipped only gold.

Before us stretched rising ground with the terraced fields clinging precariously to the steep sides. At the top of the rise grew trees, which to us who had seen so few until recent days seemed to be a forest. Here, too, the blue-clad figures worked on in the distant fields, plodding along as their remote ancestors had plodded before them. One-wheeled carts drawn by small ponies rumbled along, laden with garden produce for the markets of Chungking. They were queer vehicles. The wheel came up through the centre of the cart, leaving space on each side for the goods. One such vehicle which we saw had an old woman balanced on one side of the wheel and two small children on the other.

Chungking! End of the journey for my companions. The start of the journey for me, the start of another life. I had no friendship for it as I looked at the steep gorges of the swirling rivers. The city was built on high cliffs quite thickly clothed with houses. From where we stood it appeared to be an island, but we knew better. We knew that it was not so, but was surrounded on three sides by the waters of the rivers Yangtse and Chialing. At the foot of the cliffs, washed by the water, was a long wide strand of sand, tapering off to a point where the rivers met. This was to be a spot well known to me in later months. Slowly we mounted our horses and moved forward. As we got nearer we saw that steps were everywhere and we had a sharp pang of homesickness as we climbed the seven hundred and eighty steps of the street of steps. It reminded us of the Potala. And so we came to Chungking.

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