National Geographic : 1935 Oct
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE BUCOLIC PEACE BESIDE THE RIVER OF PERFUME On the way from Hue to the seven-storied Tower of the Source of Happiness, the road passes between urban houses and the silent river, echoing to the distant splash of oars. Under the bamboo a small boy, riding the broad back of a lumbering water buffalo, adds the rustic touch. Indo-China not only has the proper equa torial rain-belt climate, but also the workers, each of whom collects the sap from 200 to 400 trees a day and receives 40 cents for his labor. The best rubber gatherers come from Tonkin, for whose industrious laborers French islands in the Pacific also bid. AKRON IS MAJOR RUBBER CUSTOMER American interests control only three per cent of the rubber plantations, but a third of the world supply of raw rubber finds its way to the single city of Akron. Streets have already been paved with a rubber compound, and rubber is one of the tropical commodities which are swinging many modern trade routes parallel with the magnetic compass instead of across it. Saigon has a beautiful botanical garden, an excellent museum in which is housed the incomparable library of the Societe des Etudes Indochinoises, and a worthy war memorial to the Annamites who died in the World War. Outside the city are newly opened sylvan restaurants with swimming pools and dance terraces. The late Gov ernor-General Pasquier drove the first ball on a new golf course and aviation flourishes in Saigon. In this city, where even the chauffeurs go barefoot, a Czech shoemaker, who learned his trade in America, was open ing a branch store. Although my five-weeks' dash had been fruitful, I had not even climbed to see the roses of Dalat-Indo-China's highland Baguio or Simla. Nor had there been time to visit the Mois, whom the Greeks would have styled "barbarians," in the elephant country farther north. After crawling across Asia at a rate of 23 miles a day, I was to average nearly 800 miles a day on the return, a brusque change of tempo and scene. Eager for America, I was homesick, too, for the sophisticated old continent I was about to leave behind. The mist-draped Tonkin hills, like a Sung painting; the hushed "House of the Sorceresses" slashed by a mesmeric rhythm of clattering chain; bamboo-fringed backwaters near Hue; dawn touching the four faces of Siva on the Bayon towers; Laotian chiefs tying on sim ple cotton cords with prayers for a safe return; how rich in vivid sensations old Asia is! Across the years and miles she makes her influence felt.