National Geographic : 1927 Oct
BY COOLIE AND CARAVAN ACROSS CENTRAL ASIA PREPARING FOR A SLEIGH RIDE WITH TIIE MERCURY AT 44 DEGREES BELOW ZERO Permission had to be obtained from Moscow before the author was allowed to transport his motion-picture cameras, films, and binoculars through Siberia. While awaiting this permission he marked time at a little Siberian frontier town. Although the winter had hardly begun, constant subzero temperatures were experienced there. At last we reached the small town and military post of Kobdo, where a garrison of 300 soldiers is maintained. We had hoped for release, but were still under suspicion. Four hours were spent trying to convince two young Mongols of the police that we were not spies. Each time that we informed them who and what we were they roughly told us that we lied, that we were spies and dangerous char acters. MERCURY FALLS BELOW THERMOMETER'S GAUGE Finally another Mongol entered the yurt where our examination was being conducted. This man, a Buriat from southern Siberia, could read a certain amount of Russian, and, seeing our Rus sian letters, sent hurriedly for the gover nor general, the head of the district. Unlike the other Mongols we had met, he had slightly more brains than a child. Also he was able to use them. He asked a few searching questions, seemed satis fied at our answers, and ordered us taken to the house of a Russian whom we had met on our way to Kobdo. He gave us his entire time during our stay in Kobdo, and through his help we reached the Rus sian consul. This official induced the Mongols to return our confiscated arms and instru ments, and did everything in his power to persuade them to allow us to continue to Ulyasutai and Urga. But permission was absolutely refused. We decided, therefore, to take the most practicable route to Peking, which was by wagon and sleigh to a branch of the Trans Siberian Railroad at Biisk, in Siberia, thence by rail to Manchuria and Peking. The Russian consul gave us visas and per mits and arranged for the return of our men and camels to Turkestan. Before reaching the railway, we en countered exceedingly cold weather, our registering thermometer sticking several times at 440 below zero. Peking was reached on New Year's Day, nine months after leaving Kashmir. We had traveled 7,900 miles across Asia, from the Indian Ocean to the Yellow Sea.