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Looking Back

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Looking Back: The Journey Back

From February 1933

An extract from a travelogue by the Rev L Wedderburn of his journey from Leith Docks to Hailung, Manchuria.

The Journey Back

How a Missionary reached his Station in Manchuria

By The Rev L.D.M. Wedderburn, MA, Hailung


Moscow and Lenin’s Tomb

The next morning, Sunday 11th September, we arrived at Moscow. The train waits the whole day there, so I hired a guide who spoke English and made a tour of the city. Moscow is very busy, but the people seem still to be poor and depressed, and I saw many food queues waiting at the provision shops. Nearly all the churches are empty and derelict. One had been turned into an anti-religious museum. I was keen to see what it was like but it was only open to the public twice a week and was closed that day.

The thing that impressed me most of all was Lenin’s tomb. It is a handsome dark marble building in Moscow’s central square, quite small from the outside. There was already a long queue waiting to get in, which we joined. You go down a few steps into the vault, and in the centre is the glass coffin with Lenin in uniform inside. You are shepherded two by two slowly round the coffin, and then upstairs again and out. I was struck by the evident feeling of reverence as people passed, gazing at the dead face. It was practically worship. The pity of it is that they should worship a dead man instead of a living Lord.

That same evening we started again, and next day were in Siberia. We had an uneventful journey through the Siberian forests, glorious in their Autumn tints, and arrived at the Manchurian border on the afternoon of Sunday, 18th September. At the last station in Siberia the Russian Customs again examine your baggage. They demanded a pass for my camera, and in spite of my protests that their own man at the Polish-Russian border had not given me one, they confiscated it.

At Manchouli, the Manchurian border town, we were greeted with the news that we could not get any farther in the meantime as the line farther east was broken, and also that there was some fighting near the line. Some Chinese told me that they had been stuck for more than a month. The Chinese Eastern Railway, however, did us well, as they provided sleeping cars for us to stay in, and also three good meals a day at the excellent railway restaurant, free, gratis, and for nothing. We were also told that we should require our passports stamped with the new stamp. They charged British and Americans the outrageous sum of gold $5 for this privilege. We also had to be inoculated for cholera, which had been bad that summer in North Manchuria.

However, we were very lucky, as we had only to wait two days. On the third day we started for Harbin, and had not got very far before we saw the ravages of war in burned houses and wrecked stations. The Nonni River had been badly flooded this summer and that was the main cause for the delay. The large bridge had been completely washed away. We had first to get into a motor trolley, which took us over a temporary track, and finally over a pontoon bridge made of Chinese junks.

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