Mountains and Monkeys

David LeffmanFanjing Shan, Golden Monkeys, Travel writing 3 Comments

There’s no point spending half your life living rough on the road if you can’t indulge a few private interests from time to time. One of mine is seeing as much wildlife as possible. Though I’m really more interested in smaller stuff like reptiles and insects, I’ve always had good luck with primates; highlights include seeing orang-utan, proboscis monkeys, gibbon, …

Zhang Zhidong at Guiyang

David LeffmanMesny, Zhang Zhidong Leave a Comment

While walking at random around the back lanes of Guiyang, I found this bust of Mesny’s patron, Zhang Zhidong, near the restored Six-arch Bridge (六洞桥) on Bo’ai Lu. In the Qing dynasty, Guiyang’s Customs office was here, alongside the home of Yu Dekai (于德楷, aka 于仲芳, 1842–1913), a great friend of Mesny and his exact contemporary. Yu fought alongside Mesny …

Wuyapo: the final battle of the Miao War

David LeffmanMesny, Miao War, Wuyapo Leave a Comment

The last major battle of the Miao War, in either May or June 1872, was long thought to have taken place at the top of Leigong Shan. But a battle site has never been found there, and new research (including a recently-discovered eye-witness claim) makes Wuyapo  – “Crow Slope” or “Crow Mountain”, depending on how literal you want to be – near …

Tang Jiong and Mesny’s Farm at Shuitian

David LeffmanMesny, Tang Jiong 1 Comment

According to Mesny’s Chinese Miscellany, in the early 1870s Mesny bought a farm in the vicinity of Shuitian village (水田), 18km to the northeast of Guiyang. Around 1879 he sold the land at cost price to his former commander, Tang Jiong (唐炯), who was looking for a good burial spot for his mother-in-law. In 2015 my local contact, Mr Li Maoqing, located the …

Mesny’s Bridge at Chong’an

David LeffmanMesny, Zhou Dawu Leave a Comment

During the Sichuan Army’s two-year campaign against the Miao at Chong’an, they had been repeatedly slowed by having to ferry themselves across a deep, unbridged gorge just west of town. In 1874 Mesny wrote in the Shanghai Courier how he was designing a chain-link suspension bridge over the chasm, which lay on the main post road between Hunan and Guiyang: “The bridge will …