At the height of the Japanese military power during World War II, their armed forces occupied large areas of China, blockaded the ports, and closed almost all of the roads. “The Burma Road” -the one open route that snaked through the mountains from India, through Burma to western China - was bombed by Japanese fighter planes. Eventually, trucks ceased to transport goods to the Chinese Nationalist Army fighting the Japanese.
“The Hump” became the vital lifeline.
Here at the “Wind and Snow Mountain Pass” I can only begin to imagine what the American and Chinese aviators described as “Flying The Hump.”
So proclaims my guide Ilian as we reach the top of the mountain.
Ilian may be impressed. But I am not sure whether to feel proud or to feel duped. An hour ago, after breakfast, Illian casually suggests, "Let's take a stroll to see the Confucius Temple." Was I impressed into this vigorous constitutional?
During my brief visit to the livestock market in Shaxi, I recalled the ditty “Mules” that I learned at Boy Scout Camp. As I trod the grounds among horses, cows, bulls and other assorted browsers, I paid strict attention to the lyric.*
Shaxi is an historic town along the Ancient Tea Horse Road that connects China to Burma to Tibet to India. But Shaxi is unlike Lijiang, another caravan stop to the northth. Lijiang boasts an airport that dismounts herds of visitors. Shaxi retains an “ancient” atmosphere.