On the 8th of the first month (February 1), 1221, we started again. It was a fine day; the friends of the master brought presents, and standing before his horse, shed tears, and asked hüi: "Master, you undertake a distant journey of several tens of thousands of li; when shall we have the happiness of again bowing before you?" The master replied: "If you will be strong in the faith, I shall meet you again." As the friends pressed the question, he said evasively: "Our staying and our travelling depend not on our own will." But the friends would not desist, and wished a decisive answer. Then the master said: "I will be back in three years--in three years." He repeated it twice.
On the 10th of the first month (February 3, 1221) we passed the night at Ts'ui ping k'ou. The next day we passed the defile called Ye-hu ling. To the south we saw the T'ai hang ling and other mountains. The mountain air was delicious. Towards the north there were only cold sandy deserts and parched grass. Here are the limits of the breath of Chinese nature. We saw a field of battle covered with bleached human bones.
Travelling farther to the north, we passed Fu chou; and on the 15th (February 8), proceeding in a north-eastern direction, arrived at a salt lake called Kai-li po. Here we saw the first settlements- about twenty houses. To the south was a salt lake with many sinuosities, which stretched to the north-east. From this (northward) no rivers are met, water being obtained only by wells dug in the sand. Neither are there any considerable mountains for several thousand li farther to the north. After five days' travelling on horseback we left the boundary-line called Ming ch'ang.
In six or seven days we arrived at a great sandy desert, to Sha t'o. In low places elm trees of a dwarf size are found. Some of them are of a considerable circumference ;11$ but from this in a north-eastern direction extending more than ten thousand li, no tree is to be seen. We left the sandy desert on the 1st of the third mouth (March 25, 1221), and arrived at a place called Yü-rh-li, where we began to find settlements. The people for the greater part are engaged in agriculture and fishing.
pp. 45-48, E. Bretschneider's Mediæval Researches from Eastern Asiatic Sources. (New York: Barnes & Noble, 1888).