Wandering in Northern China by Harry Alverson Franck
Illustrated with 171 unusual photographs by the author, with a map showing his route.
There is no particular plan to this book. I found my interest turning toward the Far East, and as I am not one of those fortunate persons who can scamper through a country in a few weeks and know all about it, I set out on a leisurely jaunt to wherever new clues to interest led me. It merely happened that this will-o’-the-wisp drew me on through everything that was once China, north of about the thirty-fourth parallel of latitude. The man who spends a year or two in China and then attacks the problem of telling all he saw, heard, felt, or smelled there is like the small boy who was ordered by the teacher to write on two neat pages all about his visit to the museum. It simply can’t be done. Hence I have merely set down in the following pages, in the same leisurely wandering way as I have traveled, the things that most interested me, often things that others seem to have missed, or considered unimportant, in the hope that some of them may also interest others. Impressions are unlike statistics, however, in that they cannot be corrected to a fraction, and I decline to be held responsible for the exact truth of every presumption I have recorded. If I have fallen into the common error of generalizing, I hereby apologize, for I know well that details in local customs differ even between neighboring villages in China. What I say can at most be true of the north, for as yet I know nothing of southern China. On the other hand, there may be much repetition of customs and the like, but that goes to show how unchanging is life among the masses in China even as a republic.