The journey of which an account is given in the following pages was not undertaken in the special interests of geographical or other science nor in the service of any Government. My chief object was to gratify a long-felt desire to visit those portions of the Chinese Empire which are least known to Europeans, and to acquire some knowledge of the various tribes subject to China that inhabit the wild regions of Chinese Tibet and north-western Yunnan. Though nearly every part of the Eighteen Provinces has in recent years been visited and described by European travellers, my route between Tachienlu and Li-chiang was one which—so far as I am aware—no British subject had ever traversed before me, and of which no description in book-form has hitherto appeared in any European language. From the ethnological point of view the Chinese Far West—to which the greater part of this book is devoted—is one of the most interesting regions in the world, and presents problems the solution of which would settle many of the vexed questions relating to the origin and inter-relations of the Asiatic peoples. As for its geographical interest, it may be sufficient to say here that the principalities of Chala and Muli contain what are probably the highest spots inhabited by man on the face of the globe, and that several of the passes crossed by my little caravan are loftier than the highest of the passes existing along the route traversed by the British expedition to Lhasa. My own contributions to geographical and ethnological lore are of the slenderest; but if I can persuade some of my readers that Tibetan Ssuchuan and western Yunnan are worth visiting, be it only for the glory of their mountain scenery, I shall consider that my book has fulfilled the most useful purpose to which it aspires.