Travelling Through Country

4 Dec 1914

To day we are travelling through country of varied descriptions which is altogether strange to us, but remarkably interesting.

We see many native villages, the houses or huts of which are built of mud baked hard by the sun.

The natives fuel consisted of cow dung patted up in a sort of flat slab and left to dry in the sun.

The plough which were in use in the fields, were in many cases primitive being the bough of a tree drawn by yoked oxen.

The land all along the line seemed well cultivated with various vegetation, i.e. sugar cane, grain, rice, tobacco, maize, cotton and many other things, which have no doubt been introduced from home.

At all the villages we saw a quantity of cattle and goats.  The goats I noticed could wander about round the habitations just as they pleased, not tied up in any way, in and out of the rooms the people occupy just as a dog or cat would in England.

We see many birds of magnificent coloured plumage.

Much of the land was irrigated by means of canals and small waterways.  At the irrigated areas, the water is drawn from a well by a pair of yoked oxen and cause to run away down an incline into channels which spread over large fields. Natives are employed to divide the field into fairly large squares with a bordering mound of earth round each, one square is flooded first and then the water is diverted in another channel to the next square and so on till the whole field has been irrigated.

The main sort of trees we saw were coconut palms, country apple and pears, but there were many different kinds of other descriptions.

Many cacti of different species were to be noticed all along the journey.  These prickly plants were used a great deal for dividing off separate fields, instead of using fencing.

Most of the rivers are very small this time of the year with little more water in the bed than what you would get in a dyke but they overflow their banks in the rainy season.

Monkeys were frequently seen from the train running wild, especially near grain fields of which they take a considerable toll.

After dark we had [a game] of cards happily we had something to pass the time away with.

The sunset behind the hills and trees is most glorious.

There is 5 of us travelling in our compartment, 3 sleep on the 3 long seats provided, [and 2 of] us on 2 long shelves which can be pulled [down] on the side of the carriage, here we made ourselves comfortable for the night, the best way we could.

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Note: part of this diary entry is on the final sheet of Frank’s diary which is very damaged and I have guessed at some of the wording in order to give a complete story – this is noted between square brackets [...].

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