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Title: Through Siberia and Manchuria By Rail

Author: Oliver George Ready

Release Date: January 7, 2009 [EBook #27733]

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8


Produced by The Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images
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Through Siberia and
Manchuria By Rail


By Rail


Life and Sport in China


This short account of my journey from London to Shanghai by way of the Siberian Railway was at first intended for private circulation only, in order to meet the enquiries of numerous personal friends.

Now, however, that war has broken out between Russia and Japan, and that it may be years before this, the longest railway in the world, is again open to international traffic, I feel that any information, however slight, concerning so stupendous an undertaking, as well as about the remote region which it traverses, may be of interest to the general public.

I wish to emphasize that much of what is herein described was seen only from the windows of a moving train, and must therefore be lacking in that accuracy and detail which closer inspection could alone insure.

The Russian words on the cover “КТО ИДЕТЪ” signify “who goes there”?, and the Chinese characters Chinese Characters represent my surname. The Russian cross at the end, is that of the original Greek Church.

Shanghai, 29th February, 1904.


[5]I left Charing Cross on the 15th October, 1903, by the 10 a.m. boat-train for Dover. As we glided on I mentally said good-bye to familiar scenes, for I was outward bound, to put in another five years’ service under the dragon flag.

At Dover we went aboard the Belgian rapide “Ville de Douvres” and in ten minutes were streaming at twenty miles an hour through the shipping on our way across Channel.

It was a lovely day with fair wind and smooth sea, and had only the vessel’s bows been pointed in the opposite direction, I should have been perfectly happy, but they were not, so I had to make the best of things, which consisted in watching over the stern Old England’s chalk cliffs, gleaming white in the brilliant sunshine, slowly sink and disappear into the heaving main. . . . . . . Good-bye. Eastward ho!

The Belgian coast was sighted at about 3 p.m., and shortly after 4 we landed at Ostende, and I was soon installed in a first-class coupé of the weekly Nord-Express, which was to carry me without change as far as Warsaw.

This train de luxe, consisting of an engine and five or six cars, was as replete with comfort and luxury as it was possible to compress within so limited a space.

[6]That night we passed through Belgium by way of Brussels, and at 7.30 next morning, the 16th October, arrived at Berlin, but only stopped for half-an-hour, when we were again en route.

The day was fine and the country pretty, without being beautiful. In places it was well wooded with firs and silver birches. For many miles I noticed sorrel growing alongside the line almost as thickly as grass.

Shortly before arriving at the Russian frontier that afternoon, I saw many truck-loads of parsnips, and heard a train-load of geese, which were coming from the “merry green fields of Poland” to make pâté de foie gras for the Germans.

The frontier town of Alexandrowo was reached at 3 o’clock, and there we passed from German to Russian control. At the German end of the long platform officials and porters were wearing the German uniform. At the Russian end of the platform, all porters were clad in long, white cotton smocks with leather girdles, while officials wore the uniform of the Czar. As the two nationalities were here contrasted, I think the Russians showed to greater advantage, being generally taller and having a more natural bearing than the over-drilled Teuton.

Our luggage was examined by the Customs officers, and our passports taken away, viséd, and returned, before the train was allowed to proceed.

It was getting dark as we steamed into Russia, so that not much of the country could be seen, but as far as I could make out, it looked flat and gloomy enough.

We reached Warsaw at about 8 o’clock, and as the train stopped here, it being a terminus, I drove to the Hotel Bristol.

[7]The general impression I had received while on this rapid journey across half of Europe in little more than 24 hours, was that in Belgium things looked slip-shod, in Germany organized, and in Russia potential.

The hotel I found to be first-class and up-to-date in every way, while prices were moderate (six roubles a day) and the cuisine excellent.

The dining room was a perfect blaze, being illuminated by more than 1,000 electric lights, let into the walls and screened by round, opaque glasses, so that the effect was something like that of so many bull’s-eye lanterns.

As soon as I had been shown to my room, my passport was again demanded by a police agent, and again taken off to be viséd. I subsequently learnt that everyone in Russia—not only travellers but also all Russians—must have a passport, without which it is impossible to get even a night’s lodging, so that the entire population comes directly and constantly under the eye of the police. This must at times be rather galling, but on the other hand, it is a great protection, especially to strangers.

17th October.—Warsaw is an interesting town for many reasons, also, it is well laid out, having several large boulevards flanked with grass and trees, though the back streets are dirty, and badly paved with large, uneven blocks of stone.

Many beautiful churches raise their lofty spires and oriental domes, painted green or gilded with gold and surmounted by crosses, for Russians are of the Greek faith. The principal streets were crowded with fine soldiers in gay uniforms, the slums were packed[8] with repulsive looking Jews, who, in long black coats and little peaked caps, sneaked about as though in constant dread of persecution, their hooked noses, pale faces and black beards giving them that furtive and crafty appearance for which the Polish Jew is so well known. Objects of pity, their history is written on their faces.

The horses, though fine-drawn, looked strong, well-bred and good goers.

Cigars were very dear—about eighteen pence for a medium one—and each separate cigar was sold in a kind of glass or gelatine air-tight tube.

18th October.—Left Warsaw at 9.30 a.m., and the train was so crowded that although holding a first-class ticket, I was obliged to travel in a second-class sleeping-car, in company with a Pole, a Russian, and a German and his little three-year-old daughter, to say nothing of piles of luggage. Passed through fine open country, quite flat, with woods of fir, pine and silver birch at intervals, marshy plains and cultivated ground (like Fens) alternating. Flocks of sheep and geese, herds of cattle and horses. Very few birds of any kind—only saw some crows and linnets.

Roads were wretched, being mere tracks a foot deep in mud, and looked as though they had never been repaired, or even made.

Houses built low with no upper storey, walls of wooden beams and roofs of thatch. Men mostly clad in sheep skins, and women in red dresses with a red cloth over the head, bare legs and sandals. Winter wheat well grown.

19th October.—Passed a good night, despite five in the compartment. This morning much colder, and[9] at 10 o’clock saw snow, at first lying in drifts, but gradually increasing as the day wore on until everything was covered, while ponds were frozen.

Hardly any good houses. Peasants with hair four or five inches long and wearing sheep skin coats and knee-boots, came to stations to look at the train. The women had shawls over their heads, and squelched through the mud and slush with bare feet. All looked cold and dejected, while the landscape was most depressing.

With the exception of a few wild and tame pigeons, saw hardly any birds, but turkeys at a farm.

Arrived in Moscow at 4 p.m., and drove in a droski (four-wheel cab) to the Slavianski Hotel, where my passport was again required.

In the evening, after an excellent dinner, I went to a first-class variety entertainment at the Aquarium theatre.

My bedroom at the hotel was warmed in a curious manner. There was neither stove nor hot-water-pipe, but in one of the walls at some seven feet from the floor was a round hole about three inches in diameter.

Being curious to know what this hole could be for, I put my hand up to it, and was greatly surprised to find a current of hot air pouring into the room, which was thereby kept at a most comfortable temperature both by day and night.

20th October.—It was a miserable day with rain and snow, so that while the streets, which are wretchedly paved with big blocks of stone, were bad for wheeled traffic, there was not sufficient snow for sleighing.

In the morning I went to the Kremlin, which comprises the new and old Imperial palaces, churches,[10] treasury, etc., all grouped within a lofty wall, pierced here and there by gateways, one of which being holy, it behoves every good Russian to remove his hat on passing through. In the vast courtyard are ranged in long tiers the many hundreds of cannon which the Russians took from Napoleon I. It is impossible in this brief diary to deal with the splendours of the Kremlin. Nothing I have ever seen in Europe, Asia, Africa or America, can in any way compare with its semi-barbaric magnificence.

The ball-room in the new palace is of immense size and of most majestic proportions, the walls being entirely of mirrors and gold gilt, and the floor richly inlaid with many kinds of beautiful woods. Columns built of malachite, crystal, and precious stones. Stairways of marble and jade, while countless ornaments of pure gold adorned the various apartments. The old palace, which adjoins the new, is smaller, less magnificent, being of cloister like build, but intensely interesting. Here I saw the bedroom and the bed in which Napoleon slept for a few nights before Moscow was laid in ashes by her own inhabitants, and the French invaders driven out to die like flies in the snow.

In the afternoon I visited several beautiful churches, a museum, and an exhibition of Verestchagin’s famous war pictures.

On the 21st October I returned to the Kremlin and visited its churches, which are stored with priceless icons, golden vessels, gem-studded crucifixes, and silken vestures stiff with gold and precious stones. In striking contrast to such wealth, some of the chapels had dirty, uneven brick floors, and were horribly dark. Afterwards I passed through the Treasury, until I was[11] weary of looking on diamond-studied saddles, bejewelled swords and guns, thrones, crowns, the regalia and coronation robes of all the Russian Czars, etc., etc. Altogether the wealth of the Kremlin must represent scores of millions of pounds in value.

The bazaars of Moscow are far-famed, though more so in Asia than in Europe. I passed through the newest and largest. It struck me as being more extensive than the Crystal Palace, though not so lofty, and I was told that it contained under its roof a thousand shops of the best class.

At 10 p.m. that night I left the hotel in pouring rain and drove to the station, where I was soon on board the trans-Siberian express, which started at 11 p.m. In my coupé were two Russian Officers and a Japanese—all hurrying eastward in anticipation of a Russo-Japanese war. The most interesting part of my journey now commenced. I was about to go where but comparatively few Englishmen have ever been, and to pass through a region chiefly known to the civilized world as a place of exile, a place of horror, a dreary wilderness of frost and snow and wind, a place to which the words “ye who enter here must leave all hope behind” were ever applicable. The greater part of this journey of over 5,000 miles from Moscow to the Far East, which I was about to make in a few days in a train de luxe, was, until recently, made by the wretched exiles on foot, taking from one to two years.

22nd October.—Passed through flat, uninteresting country. Much wheat cultivated. No trees, no hedges, no ditches and but little grass. Cloudy and depressing. Inhabitants ill-clad and poverty stricken. Miserable houses with mud or wooden walls and thatch roofs.[12] Some were built partly below ground for warmth, while earth heaped up round the walls and over the roofs, gave them the appearance of enormous potato heaps, having a door, chimney, and two or three windows. Churches were the only substantial buildings.

23rd October.—Same kind of country as yesterday. In afternoon more hilly on approaching the Ural mountains. Dining-car far too small and had often to wait hours for meals. General Wogack, a prominent Russian Officer on his way to the Far East, seeing that I could not get a seat, very kindly invited me to lunch at his table, which had been reserved for him and his aide-de-camp. Both the General and his aide spoke English perfectly.

Another passenger was a Chinese Secretary of Legation from Rome, who, not being able to speak anything but his own language, hailed me with delight, and we had long conversations in Mandarin.

Grouped round towns and villages were enormous stack-yards, representing what must have been the entire wheat crop of the surrounding country, for I saw no other stacks in the fields. It seemed to me a very dangerous plan, for if one stack caught fire, the others would be almost sure to go too. There may have been as many as a thousand stacks close together. I saw numerous turkeys at the farms.

24th October.—This morning we were in the Ural mountains, and at about 10 o’clock stopped at Zlataoust, which is the last town in Europe, and where I bought two platinum candlesticks and a small model of a sledge as mementoes. Here also much cutlery was for sale at very low prices, being evidently manufactured in the neighbourhood, while precious stones were[13] offered in the rough state, as taken from the mines, but it was necessary to be a connoisseur before venturing to buy. At Miasse, the next stopping place and the first station in Asia, saw many natives clad in skins, with very yellow and Asiatic looking faces, dirty. Here I bought two crystal eggs as paper-weights. In a booth at one end of the platform saw several stuffed specimens of game found in this neighbourhood. Wapiti, lynx, deer, wolf, fox, etc. Highest point reached by railway about 3,000 feet. Many nice views. Ground covered with snow. Country very thinly populated.

25th October.—Lovely day, no snow but sharp frost. Ponds and streams frozen and a few people skating. At Omsk saw numbers of Asiatics clad in skins, they were ugly, dirty and many pitted with small-pox. Country was level plain, with clumps of silver birch at intervals. Some cultivation, numerous herds of cattle, and a few ponies. Land mostly covered with dry grass about a foot high, like our Norfolk marsh grass. The station at Omsk was on outskirts of town, which looked to be of great size, with many pretentious buildings. Few inhabitants in country.

26th October.—This morning passed Obi, a town of considerable importance. The air was delicious. Snow on ground, with hard frost. Sun bright and warm. Country much nicer—more undulating. Saw men carrying stones for building purposes on a kind of tray with two handles at each end, as fishermen carry nets. China ponies were numerous here. Women and men very ugly and dirty. Sledges in use for carrying litter, hay, wood, etc. To many stations the most delicious milk and cream I have ever tasted were brought in bottles by women and girls, for sale to the passengers,[14] and at very cheap rates. Occasionally also, a few pears and apples of fair quality could be purchased, but the amount of fruit grown seemed to be small.

27th October.—Much warmer, there being a good deal of snow, with bright sun. At about 2 o’clock reached Krasnoiarsk, a considerable town. Shortly after this crossed the river Yenesei on a magnificent iron bridge of several spans. The scenery became very fine in the afternoon, with pleasant hills and trees, all covered with snow. Several China ponies in droves. Sledges. More cultivation. At sundown slowly climbing a range of mountains. Saw many houses built underground with roof and entrance just appearing above snow. Country more pleasing than any seen since entering Russia.

28th October.—Perfect weather—same as yesterday. Country very hilly and beautiful in the snow. Passing up a valley between lofty hills, noticed a corduroy road made of transverse trunks of trees, as seen in Canada. Well built water-towers about 30 feet high at all stations for watering engines. Country looked more thriving here than in European Russia. Better houses, and bright skies instead of lowering ones. Silver birch, pines and firs. At various places en route have seen the old Siberian Road, of bitter memories.

29th October.—Lovely morning with sharp frost. Saw many small houses with only roofs above ground. Many tame pigeons and a few magpies, but hardly any other bird-life. Horses, or rather, ponies, small and poor. Skirted the river Angara for a long distance in early morning. View lovely. Water, where not frozen, clear as crystal. Swift current, which, breaking over boulders, showed that there was no great[15] depth. Saw three small boys clad in furs fishing through a hole made in the snow-covered ice. At 11 o’clock reached Irkoutsk, but saw very little of it as the station is two miles out of the town. At about two o’clock arrived at Lake Baikal, where we left the train and went on board the ferry boat “Baikal,” a remarkable craft with four funnels and twenty windsails, three screws aft and one forrard. It was said that she could plough her way through ice two feet thick at eight miles an hour. I judged her to be about 260 feet long by 50 wide. She has a good saloon wherein refreshments of all kinds can be obtained. The bows of this vessel, from about six feet above the water-line, are wide open, so that as she lay at the wharf trains can steam into her hold, the metals on board and those on shore connecting. She has three lines of metals in the hold, so that three trains, each of about 240 feet in length, can stand abreast. There were twenty or twenty-one trucks aboard to-day, in three rows of six or seven trucks each, but no engines. Most of these trucks were laden with twenty railway metals each, though three or four of them carried merchandize.

No ice on lake. We cast off at a quarter to three in the afternoon and reached Missovaïa on the other side at 5.35, a distance of only 40 miles, this being the narrowest part of the lake, the length of which exceeds 300 miles.

The water was clear and of a steel-gray colour. Hills of perhaps 2,000 feet lined either shore as far as the eye could reach. Presently the setting sun lit up the snow on these mountains with every colour of the rainbow, and we steamed along, as it were, between[16] walls of flaming brilliancy. Soon the placid waters took on the colouring as reflected from the hills, and we were indeed moving in a basin of liquid fire. Many seagulls, appearing as quite old Norfolk friends, followed in our wake.

At Missovaïa we found another train de luxe awaiting us, and it was here, from the warmth of a saloon car, that I first saw a batch of Siberian exiles, although I had previously seen the cars with caged windows wherein they are now transported, instead of having to undergo that weary tramp of 4,000 miles.

It was already dark and the train had not yet started, when I saw a band of armed soldiers surrounding some thirty people carrying bundles, coming along the dimly-lighted platform, and then form up at one end of it, the people being always surrounded by the soldiers. What had especially attracted my attention, or I might not have noticed in the uncertain light of what the band consisted, was a little boy of about 10 or 12 years of age, who was carrying a large bundle which looked like clothing, trying to pass on the wrong side of some palings, when he was roughly seized by the ear by one of the Cossack guards and quickly brought back.

Wishing to post some letters, I tried to pass along that end of the platform in search of the pillar-box, but was at once stopped by the guard. The steam from our engine, congealed by the sharp post, fell in a fine snow about this luckless band, and glistened white on their clothes in the station lights, and it almost seemed to add an uncalled-for insult to the misery of their lot. I could not help wondering as to what their thoughts might be as they watched our waiting train,[17] replete with every comfort and blazing with electric light. I have never before seen the extremes of misery and captivity on the one hand, and the extremes of freedom and luxury on the other, brought into such close and striking contrast, and I hope never to see it again. Subsequently the dejected looking throng, in which I fancied I saw women, were marched through a doorway into a darkened passage in the station, and so disappeared from sight.

Probably they were all criminals who deserved their fate. Possibly not. Preconceived ideas and old tradition, however, stirred one’s sympathies, and left an unpleasant feeling in the mind for some time. I was constrained to compare our lots, and be thankful for mine. I, free to go my way in every comfort. They .............................. ?

After crossing the Ural mountains I noticed numbers of magpies, through in European Russia I also saw a few.

30th October.—Another beautiful day. In the morning we passed Petrovski Zavod, a place historical in Russian annals as being the penal settlement of the conspirators who early in the nineteenth century tried to overthrow the ruling dynasty, and where numbers of the Russian aristocracy died in exile. It is now a large village of log houses, with wide, mud streets. Hills surround this spot, so that it could be easily guarded, and escape made very difficult. A large, black Russian cross, conspicuous on the highest peak, overlooks the valley. It marks the burial place of one of the most noble exiles.

The scenery to-day has been very good, having at times a park-like appearance, with rolling downs[18] and scattered fir trees. In the afternoon we climbed the Nertchinsk mountains, and by dark had reached a considerable altitude, the air being very keen. At Khilok station, where we stopped for a few minutes, I got out and ran up and down for exercise, but found the cold so great that I was glad to get on board again for fear of having my ears frost bitten, they having become perfectly numb.

Since leaving Irkoutsk the houses have been better built, and the country has looked far more pleasing than in European Russia. I saw great piles of sleepers stacked alongside the line, and heavy metals lying by the track for many miles, so that the present light rails are apparently to be replaced, but so far, very few men at work. To-day we passed a waggon-church in a siding at a small village. This waggon-church moves about up and down the line to places where there are no churches, and there it is stopped, and mass said for the inhabitants by a Russian priest.

A few fat-tailed sheep were also seen. These animals have enormous tails of solid fat, about as large, and of much the same shape, as a small ham. During winter when the frozen ground is covered with snow and no pasturage is to be found, it is said that they live on the fat stored in these tails, in the same manner as camels exist for considerable periods on their humps, seals on their blubber, and bears by sucking their paws.

Here and there I observed mobs of China ponies, some nondescript dogs and a few ordinary-looking cattle.

Between Lake Baikal and Manchuria all food was much dearer, while only American beer could be obtained and that at the exorbitant price of one[19] rouble and a quarter, say half-a-crown, the bottle, which was because of excessive import duty. We crossed many streams, the waters of which were clear, although generally frozen. The Buriat population of this region looked of a low type, fairly large in stature but hideous, and generally badly marked with small-pox. Saw one boy on skates. Bought postage stamps for 40 kopeks at a small station, but had to give another 10 kopeks as commission. Saw a Mongol with pigtail at one of the stations, which showed that we were approaching the borders of the Chinese Empire.

31st October.—Lovely day, air like champagne. Descended mountains at a good pace, having two engines, one in front and one behind. Were now in country of the nomad Bactrians. No cultivation. Saw mobs of ponies and flocks of black and white sheep, cattle much resembling Scotch breeds, having long, thick hair, and a good many two-humped camels. Observed one man shooting with a gun, another riding with bow and arrows slung on his back. The houses, or wigwams, were square in shape with arching roofs, and looked to be constructed of wicker-work and skins. In many places noticed irregular, flat stones set up on edge and varying in height from three to six feet, forming circles about twenty feet in diameter, in which, presumably, were graves.

At Buriatskaia, which means capital of the Buriats, were two typical Mongols with pigtails and clad in skins. One of them was wearing an official tassel attached to his skin hood, but no official button to show his rank. To-day saw a flock of larks, a hawk and a magpie. From daylight till dark, during which time we travelled a distance of perhaps 300[20] miles, there was no vestige of either trees, shrubs, banks or hedges, and no cultivation, only the rolling grass lands slightly whitened with snow. Reached the town of Manchuria, which is on the Manchurian frontier, at 8 p.m., and changed one of the 1st Class cars, something having gone wrong with the axles.

1st November.—A bright morning, but more snow on ground and not so cold. Saw many Mongols and Chinese. The country was hilly and sparsely wooded with silver birch and bushes. At Irekte the Russians have quite a colony, and the line apparently has a branch running South. From Irekte to Boukhédou, a distance of about 25 miles, the line passed over some very steep hills. Two engines to haul us up, and coming down the descent was made in gradients, the train first running a mile or so one way, then stopping, when the engines were shunted to the other end, when we ran about a mile in the opposite direction, and so on, so that we described a perfect zigzag. A tunnel through this range of hills is being bored, and a colony of 150 Italian mechanics, together with their wives, has been imported to do it. Boukhédou is already quite a large place with numbers of substantial Russian houses built of wood, and many more, as well as a station, in course of construction. Sentries armed with rifle and revolver were stationed every here and there along the line. A fair amount of rolling-stock. Saw several long-haired goats, also some Chinese pedlars. Evidently a good deal of ground game in this locality, judging from traces in the snow.

2nd November.—We arrived at Harbin (or Kharbine) towards noon. I could see tall factory[21] chimneys for some time previously, and then we crossed by a fine iron bridge over the Sungari River, whereon I saw about a dozen river-steamers, of say 1,000 to 1,500 tons, laid up for the winter, and a score or so of barges of perhaps 400 to 600 tons. A large paddle steamer was towing a barge under the bridge against the swift current as we passed over.

This large town, which has entirely sprung up since advent of the railway, looked almost wholly Russian, there being a population of about 64,000 Russians and not so many Chinese. Russians here were even working as labourers, drivers of droskies, etc. Many European houses and several large brick-built factories in course of construction. The Russians are here with the intention of staying, and are making good their hold as quickly as possible.

The station is perhaps a mile from the river and of considerable size, though still in a rough stage, for Harbin is the junction of the line to Vladivostock and the line to Dalny and Port Arthur. Here was a great deal of rolling-stock—scores of cars and many engines.

After leaving Harbin armed guards along the line were more numerous, while every few miles were brick-built block-houses surrounded by loop-holed walls.

The country looked fertile and well cultivated, and the Manchu and Chinese inhabitants more prosperous. Rolling hills and a few trees. Much warmer. No snow.

3rd November.—Lovely day, bright and warm. No trace of snow. At Tienline saw some rickshas, also good, brick European houses being built. Chinese navvies working on the line, a good deal of rolling-stock,[22] and truck-loads of superior looking bricks. Chinese were wheeling barrow-loads of mud instead of, as is usual, carrying it in baskets, owing, probably, to Muscovite persuasion. Country looked rich, well cultivated and well peopled; the women, being nearly all Manchus, having large feet. Chinese carpenters, bricklayers and joiners at work on many new stations and houses. Pigs, cattle and fowls. Few birds. Thinly wooded. A pleasant looking country. Donkeys, ponies, goats and mules.

At Moukden, which is the capital of Manchuria, the train only stopped for a few minutes, and as the station was outside the city walls, I could get no idea of what the place was like. From Moukden to Dalny I saw many and substantial traces of Russian occupation. At one point a mud fort crowned with guns, at another a large camp with half a dozen field-pieces, and so on.

The line all through seemed to be well laid, though rails far too light, which forbade running at high speeds. There appeared to be too few sidings. On one of the cars I saw the number 2,741, which may be some indication as to the amount of rolling-stock. Along entire length of the line I noticed overhead telegraph wires, which sometimes numbered six or seven and occasionally two or three.

For the whole journey the food on train was good, but owing to the large number of passengers, after giving the order one had oftentimes to wait from an hour to an hour and a half before getting served. After Baikal this considerably improved, there then being two restaurants, one for smokers and one for non-smokers, whereas before, men smoked without restraint[23] while women and children were eating their meals. This dining-car was a perfect babel of tongues, for there were collected Russians, English, French, Japanese, Germans, Swiss, Chinese and Italians, generally all talking at once.

On the whole we rubbed along fairly well, although where so many nationalities were closely packed together for a fortnight, a certain amount of racial antipathy was occasionally bound to appear. When no Russians were about both the Japanese and Chinese would eagerly question me on the chances of war. When a Russian appeared, they immediately seemed to lose all interest in the subject. The Germans affected to despise the Russians, and the Russians said they hated the Germans, while they both suspected the English.

4th November.—We reached Dalny at 7 a.m., and I drove in a droski from the station to the wharves, a distance of perhaps one mile and a half, and there went on board the Railway Company’s steamer “Amour” which was to convey us to Shanghai. It is truly wonderful to what a large European town Dalny has grown from absolutely nothing, in about five years. Good private residences, factories, hotels, shops, public buildings, the beginnings of botanical and zoological gardens, a dry dock measuring, I judged, about 350 feet by 70, wharves, breakwaters, dredgers, tugs, steamers ... everything except the one thing needful, trade. Of the half-dozen fine steamers in port, and others either arriving or preparing to depart, all were practically light. Money has been poured out like water by the Russians in constructing the Railway and in building Dalny, and it is very doubtful if this[24] gigantic enterprise will ever be made to pay. It is said that Dalny, which is identical with Talienwan, can never thrive unless Newchwang be closed to foreign trade. The harbour has a depth of 28 feet and is being dredged. The Railway Company’s line of superb steamers carrying mails, passengers and a little cargo between Dalny and Shanghai, is being run at a heavy loss. The naval fortress of Port Arthur, at the extremity of the Liaotung peninsular, is thirty miles by rail from Dalny.

The impression left on me by my journey through Siberia is that Russia has advanced her outposts into Manchuria far beyond range of effective communication, that is, communication by the Siberian railway alone, which is only a single line of light metals some 5,375 miles in length.

Travelling over this line day and night for fourteen consecutive days, passing continuously through bleak, barren and almost unpopulated regions, crossing numerous wide rivers, an enormous lake and several mountain ranges, waiting sometimes for hours in sidings to allow homeward bound trains to pass, and seeing enough snow, even before winter had actually begun, to understand what difficulties heavy falls must occasion, I cannot help feeling that Russia’s position in the Far East is unnatural and even precarious.

The railway in its entirety is flimsy and liable to collapse almost everywhere, and I am certain it could never sustain a large volume of rapid traffic. Even, however, supposing that it did not break down, but was worked successfully to its utmost capacity, what would that capacity be—the capacity of a single light line of over 5,000 miles in length? Could a town of[25] 100,000 inhabitants rely solely on it for supplies? Can a Russian army of even 100,000 men rely on it?

The S.S. “Amour” cast off from her wharf at noon on 4th November, and after a quick and calm passage arrived in Shanghai at noon on 6th November, 1903.

This fine vessel, measuring about 2,000 tons, steaming 14 knots, fitted up with every comfort and kept scrupulously clean, was commanded by Russian officers and manned by a mixed crew of Russian and Chinese sailors. Since the outbreak of hostilities, however, she has been transformed into a hospital ship at Port-Arthur.

Approximate Cost of Journey

£ s. d.
Passport viséd at Russian Consulate in London 4 10
Ticket from London to Moscow, 1st Class 14 4 9
Freight and Insurance on heavy luggage from London to Shanghai by P. & O. steamer 4 0 0
Cab hire at Warsaw and Moscow 1 0 0
Ticket from Moscow to Shanghai 34 10 0
Maintenance en route (including hotels) for 22 days at ten shillings a day 11 0 0
Sundries 5 0 0
Total from London to Shanghai 69 19 7

Length of Journey

From London to Moscow about 1,600
Moscow to Dalny 5,375
Dalny to Shanghai (by sea) 550
Total distance from London to Shanghai   7,525

Time Occupied

Days hours
From 10 a.m. on 15th October to noon on 6th November, 1903 22 2
Less 3 days 19 hours stay at Warsaw and Moscow 3 19
Time spent in actual travelling 18 7

The rate of travelling was therefore rather more than seventeen miles an hour, inclusive of all stoppages and delays.

Between Moscow and Dalny the train stopped at 151 stations, thereby losing almost 37 hours.

The rouble is equivalent to about two shillings and a penny. There are 100 kopeks to the rouble.

German is the most useful foreign language for travelling in Russia.



“Life and Sport in China.”




Times—“A bright popular account of Anglo-Chinese life, and of the characteristics and customs of the Chinese.”

Spectator—“A very bright contribution to the aspect of animal nature and domestication in the Far East. Is full of keen observation, and lightened by a very pleasant sense of humour.” (Topics of the day).

Standard—“Of life in China the author has much to tell us. He is a keen and often sympathetic observer.” (Leading article).

Yorkshire Post—“This book is ‘alive’ and interesting, and far in advance of the ordinary record of travel.”

Scotsman—“Entertaining and fair-minded.”

Glasgow Herald—“Certain to excite the interest and the envy of young men at home.”

Birmingham Gazette—“One of the Books of the Day. Is pleasantly written, immensely entertaining, and full of information.”

Dundee Advertiser—“The chapters on Shooting, Riding and Sailing will prove specially interesting to sportsmen and athletes.”

(Chapman and Hall, London, 10s. 6d. net).


This type was set up by Chinese compositors.

Second proofs contained 268 errors!

Page 11 for hehind read behind
14 cheep read cheap
18 exhorbitant read exorbitant
21 navies read navvies

Transcriber’s Note:

The errors mentioned in the errata have been changed,
along with the following:

Page  7 general inpression changed to general impression
  to strangers, changed to to strangers.
Page 10 gem-studied changed to gem-studded
Page 15 length of whch changed to length of which
  300 miles changed to 300 miles.
Page 16 in the the station changed to in the station
Page 17 Petrovski zavod changed to Petrovski Zavod
  conspiritors changed to conspirators
Page 19 clad in skins changed to clad in skins.
Page 20 and Chinese changed to and Chinese.
Page 21 chimnies changed to chimneys
  we passed over changed to we passed over.
  trace of show changed to trace of snow
Page 22 Few birds changed to Few birds.
Page 24 even precarious, changed to even precarious.
Page 25 P & O. steamer changed to P. & O. steamer

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