The world as we know it, has been well discovered and mapped out by hundreds of daring explorers. These great adventurers went out and faced the unknown while others sat back and watched waiting for there return. Hundreds of years ago, they didn't have Lonely Planet or Rough Guides to help them along their paths.
The travels of Marco Polo and Ibn Battuta are similar in that they both traveled at an early age. They also went in the same general direction, west, covering many of the same countries. It is hard to imagine taking a trip like this today and must have been even more tricky so many centuries ago.
Below is a comparison of the adventures of Marco Polo and Ibn Battuta.
For Starters: Marco Polo took his "Gap Year" a bit too seriously, saying "Ciao!" to his family and friends back home in Venice, Italy at the age of 17. He carried on to travel by sea and overland to China via Israel, Turkey, Iraq and Afghanistan.
In China his storytelling made him valuable to the great Kublai Khan, whom Marco worked diplomatic missions for around Asia. Finally after 17 years abroad he returned to his home of Venice with riches and stories from his travels. While in the area he visited Mongolia as well.
Countries Visited: about 20
Time Away: 17 Years
In the end: Upon his return, Marco Polo told of all his stories which fell upon deaf ears. The people of Venice did not believe Marcos' tales. While on his deathbed, Marco was asked by a priest to admit his lies, to which Marco replied,
"I do not tell half of what I saw because no one would have believed me."
For Starters: Ibn began his trip at the age of 21, when he set off from Tangier to Mecca. His original idea was a 16 month voyage, but many concubines and even more countries later, his travel plans shifted. Suffice it to say that while he avoided the black plague, he did catch the travel bug... and perhaps even a few other things from said concubines.
Time Away: 29 years
In the End: His original goal, to make the Mecca, he accomplished 7 times. It is estimated that Ibn traveled 75,000 miles, which was more than any other traveler of his time. He returned to find his family had perished while he was away so Ibn continued traveling throughout Spain and West Africa.
The best advice from Ibn regarding travel was to
"never, so far as possible, to cover a second time any road."
What I appreciate about these two gentlemen is that they did it. They didn't wait until retirement, or until after they had a family and kids before they left to see this great world. This is something that young people ought to follow today so they can learn about the cultures of the world and do equally great things.
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