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Today I wish to introduce an old friend of China. He came from Italy, far away in Europe, to visit ancient China, and then introduced China to the world.
When Marco Polo was a child he heard stories about China from the mouths of his father and uncle, and so made up his mind to follow them and take a look for himself. Because the distance between Europe and China is so far, the people rarely interacted with each other, let alone visited their respective lands. But Marco Polo went directly, spending many years before finally arriving in the then Mongol Dynasty’s capital, today’s Beijing.
Marco Polo lived in China for about twenty years, not merely getting to grips with Chinese people’s everyday life, but also visiting far and wide, and even taking on a role as a government official. After returning to Italy, he left behind for the people a book, Marco Polo’s Travel Records. This book was translated into many languages, and it caused a sensation in Europe. In the book, people could vividly see China, the everyday life and customary habits of its people, and the beauty of its mountains, rivers, and bustling cities. Some people even say that Marco Polo brought Chinese cuisine to Europe, for example, ice cream, noodles, and sesame cake, etc.
There are many strange things in Marco Polo’s book, and there are those that don’t believe him, even mocking his tales. But in the wake of more people getting to know China, Europeans finally came to believe that China was in fact as he described. However today, some historians say that Marco Polo never actually went to China, that the content of his book is entirely bogus. Furthermore, in Chinese historical sources there isn’t even a mention of a person called Marco Polo. But I believe that the author of Marco Polo’s Travel Records must have visited and loved China.
Neil Armstrong (mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org)