Boy Scouts Beyond The Seas
There are, of course, many interesting things to see. In the shops they make and sell beautiful embroideries, delicately carved ivory and sandalwood, jewellery and metal ware. At one place I saw them enamelling silver and gold ornaments with tiny bits of feathers out of jays’ and kingfishers’ wings.
There are numbers of temples, many of them a thousand years old, and wonderfully decorated with carving. In one of these they have set up as one of their saints a small statue of Marco Polo, the great explorer who visited China in the twelfth century. So you see they admire a good scout.
But a great many of the temples have been much knocked about during recent times by the Chinese themselves, and many of their images have been destroyed on account of the revolution
many of them thinking that if they have a new kind of Government it means that they must also
have new gods.
But this apparently was only the idea of a few young hooligans, and is not approved of by the larger number of the people; and so in some of the temples the ancient images which were destroyed are now being replaced by terribly brilliant new ones.
The cook-shops and eating-houses are interesting to see, though “niffy” to smell. The way you eat your dinner there is to squat on the ground with a little bowl in your left hand and a pair of chopsticks – things like wooden knitting needles – in your right.
With your chopsticks you ladle some rice out of the public dish into your bowl, and then pick out bits of the stew and transfer them between the chopsticks into your mouth. It takes a bit o£ doing till you have got the knack of it, and every now and then you ladle some of the rice into your mouth.
From watching the Chinese do it I believe it is not only clever handling of the chopsticks that gets the rice there, but also a certain amount of shoving out your lower jaw at the right moment-like an old carp feeding.
The things they cat, too! I don’t believe that even a Boy Scout in camp has eaten such wonderful and fearful things.
Years ago I had for dinner a big kind of lizard called an iguana, with his head and tail cut off; he was boiled whole in a big pot, and when he was dished up lying on his back with his little arms and legs sticking up he looked exactly like a baby, and when we ate him he tasted just like one, too!
You know what a baby would taste like, don’t you? Very soft chicken flavoured with violet powder – that’s what my iguana tasted like.
Well, in a butcher’s shop in Canton I saw just such another little carcass lying on its back, and I thought at once: “Is that a very small baby or a big lizard?” Then I noticed that it had a tail, a longish, very thin tail. So I recognised it. It was a dog!
The Chinese think a dog, and especially a puppy, a very particularly nice dish.
Then they have a way of making excellent soup out of the lining of certain kinds of birds’ nests boiled down. I saw in one shop a most gruesome-looking snail, a great brown and white fellow as big as your two fists put together and with a sort of trunk like an elephant’s – I don’t say as big as an elephant’s, but the same sort of shape on a smaller scale. He was a horrid-looking, slithering sort of beast – but they said he was very good to eat. I didn’t try him.
Rats and guinea pigs are also great delicacies – so they say.