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Chapter I
From Ch’ang-Gan to the Sandy Desert

Fa-hien had been living in Ch’ang-gan.1 Deploring the mutilated and imperfect state of the collection of the Books of Discipline, in the second year of the period Hwang-che, being the Ke-hae year of the cycle,2 he entered into an engagement with Kwuy-king, Tao-ching, Hwuy-ying, and Hwuy-wei,3 that they should go to India and seek for the Disciplinary Rules.4

After starting from Ch’ang-gan, they passed through Lung,5 and came to the kingdom of K’een-kwei,6 where they stopped for the summer retreat.7 When that was over, they went forward to the kingdom of Now-t’an,8 crossed the mountain of Yang-low, and reached the emporium of Chang-yih.9 There they found the country so much disturbed that travelling on the roads was impossible for them. Its king, however, was very attentive to them, kept them (in his capital), and acted the part of their danapati.10

Here they met with Che-yen, Hwuy-keen, Sang-shao, Pao-yun, and Sang-king;11 and in pleasant association with them, as bound on the same journey with themselves, they passed the summer retreat (of that year)12 together, resuming after it their travelling, and going on to T’un-hwang,13 (the chief town) in the frontier territory of defence extending for about 80 le from east to west, and about 40 from north to south. Their company, increased as it had been, halted there for some days more than a month, after which Fa-hien and his four friends started first in the suite of an envoy,14 having separated (for a time) from Pao-yun and his associates.

Le Hao,15 the prefect of T’un-hwang, had supplied them with the means of crossing the desert (before them), in which there are many evil demons and hot winds. (Travellers) who encounter them perish all to a man. There is not a bird to be seen in the air above, nor an animal on the ground below. Though you look all round most earnestly to find where you can cross, you know not where to make your choice, the only mark and indication being the dry bones of the dead (left upon the sand).16
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