By Isabella Bird

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Paoning fu, where I spent a week, is, in spring at least, a very attractive city. There is a pleasant sleepiness about it. Trade is neither so active or so self-asserting as usual. There is obviously a leisured class with time to enjoy itself. Large fortunes are not made; 45,000 taels is looked upon as wealth, and there are no millionaires to overshadow the small traders. Junks of eighteen tons and over can ascend to Paoning during much of the year. There is a considerable coal trade on the Tung river, and the city being in the centre of an important silk region, there is a degree of activity about the silk trade. There are such small industries as dyeing cottons, making wine and vinegar, and the export of pigs' bristles and hides, but nothing is pursued very energetically. Among the population of about 20,000 there are a small number of Mohammedans, and wherever they exist beef and milk are attainable luxuries. In Paoning they cure and spice an excellent salt beef, which I found an agreeable variation from fowls on my further journey.

Officially, Paoning Fu is an important city, having a Taotai, a prefect, and a hsien, and many of its beautiful “suburban villas” are the residences of retired and expectant mandarins. Its suburbs are quite charming, and its suburban roads are densely shaded by large mulberry trees and the Aleurites cordata.