Joseph Rock described Mongdong (Mundon) as a “dreary Hsifan hamlet”. But as the morning sun rose over the peaks it seemed to me anything but dreary. The views across the gorge were superb and this collection of four family houses seemed to be a cheerful little community.Drawn by the sound of chanting and the throbbing of a drum, I visited the small Black Hat Buddhist temple next door, outside which in a stone shrine some burning juniper branches sent up a trail of smoke into the blue sky. Within the dark and dusty interior a couple of old men in ordinary clothes were conducting a morning blessing, impervious to a young boy and girl toddlers who gamboled around them. The bumpy surface of the whitewashed interior wall was covered with colourful Buddhist frescoes.