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April 2002

Hanging In There

“Throughout the whole region . . . bridges are few and primitive,” wrote A. L. Shelton, author of “Life Among the People of Eastern Tibet,” from the September 1921 National Geographic. This image of a precarious Mekong River crossing was first published in that issue. “With his mount securely trussed to the rope bridge,” says the photo’s caption, “the owner supplies his own motive power, hand over hand, as he pulls himself and beast across the chasm with the river far below.”  A staple of Tibetan food also presented some difficulties, according to Shelton, a medical missionary who had spent several years in the country. “There is such a quantity of yak hair in the butter that an observer would almost assume that it was a prized ingredient,” he wrote.
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