- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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Thursday, October 2. So now we are in China,
the Celestial Empire—we crossed the frontier last night
—but it certainly does not look very celestial here.
A strange impression I had on opening the window
this morning. Brown, rolling plains of grass, with low,
bare heights surrounding them. If it were not for the
grass this might well be the desert of Gobi. No sign
of human habitation to be seen in any quarter, not a
tree, not a bush, nothing but dry, brown grass. Just
the same, horizon after horizon. Then we come to a
river winding through the plain ; this is the Khailår.
There are some bushes and scrub along its banks, and
here and there a solitary birch-tree. But still not a hut,
not a human being. Desolate land — not even a trace
of man’s activity, except this line of railway traversing
the brown carpet. The river runs in the opposite
direction to that in which we are going ; it flows into
the Argiin, and then into the Amiir.
We are here on the Khulunbuir plateau, about 2000
feet above the sea. It is a continuation of the Mongo
lian plateau with the wide steppes on the south and
west, and it extends far to the northward and into
Transbaikalia. One might be in doubt whether we are
in Mongolia or Manchuria, as the country agrees rather
with one’s ideas of the former ; but politically we are
within the Manchurian frontier. I thought the soil
must be parched here, as these ridges have no trees,
and we are not very far from Gobi—these steppes are to
be regarded as a continuation of it ; but then there is
water enough in the river, besides swamps and stagnant
ponds over the plain. What can be the reason ? Is it
dried up at certain seasons of the year ? Not far to the

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