Ibn Battuta was a 14th century North African world traveler—I like to describe Marco Polo as his 13th century Italian imitator. He started by going on pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina, got bit by the travel bug. In the course of his travels he went down both the East and West African coasts, providing our only source for those areas in that century. Hearing that Mohammed ibn Tugluq, the fabulously wealthy sultan of Delhi, was generous to foreign scholars, Ibn Battuta set off for India and ended up spending several years as the chief Maliki Qadi of Delhi. His account of his visit to China is dubious, but he probably got at least as far as somewhere in south-east Asia. Eventually he came home and wrote an account of his travels, the Rehla, which survives.
Early on, he swore never, if he could avoid it, to return by the same route he went out on. In my travels, mostly wandering around foreign cities (at the moment Sao Paulo), I have found it good advice. Walk out by one route, back by another, and you see twice as much.
"I like to describe Marco Polo as his 13th century Italian imitator."
1. Because people know about Marco Polo, so it's a shorthand description of Ibn Battuta.
2. Because I find it amusing to accuse the earlier person of imitating the later.
I recommend that you fly open-jaws next time, LAX to São Paulo returning Buenos Aires to LAX.
You leave by a different route, to avoid the ambush they set up waiting for you . . .
Post a Comment