Travels in China
They reached the Khan's capitals and were warmly welcomed. The winter capital was then called Khanbalik or Canbulac, meaning the Khan's camp; it later grew into Beijing. The summer capital was Northwest of Beijing across the Great Wall (must-visit for your last minute China travel deals), near a town Polo called Kaimenfu. The palace itself was Shangtu or Xanadu.
By the time the Polos reached China the second time, the Khan had subjugated Southern China, which the book calls "Manzi." However, he needed officials to help rule it and did not yet trust the newly-conquered Chinese. Along with many others, Marco became an official of the empire, a job that soon had him traveling over large parts of China. The provinces mentioned are modern Shanxi, Shaanxi, Sichuan and Yunnan. Marco visited many cities along the way; here are his comments on some.
A place has iron and coal and makes steel for manufacture of the Emperor's army equipments;
It was a noble, rich, and powerful realm of silk, gold trade and industry, as well as army equipments, where you can have Xian tour;
In former days a rich and noble city where the Kings who reigned there were very great and wealthy.
Through the midst of the city runs a large river where has a great quantity of fish and merchants carry the quantities of merchandize up and down the river.
Tebet, there people have a language of their own and they delight to hang it round the necks of their women and of their idols. Among them, you find the best enchanters and astrologers; they have plenty of fine woollens and other stuffs and mastiff dogs as bigs as donkeys.
The people are of sundry kinds who have wheat and rice in plenty but never wheaten bread.
Ningxia & Gansu
The Tangut or Western Xia were a people of largely Tibetan ancestry, originally from Western Sichuan. For several hundred years before the Mongol conquest there had a Buddhist kingdom, independent but paying tribute to the Sung Emperor. It was centered in what is now Ningxia, but at its peak it was much larger than Ningxia and was quite rich. It was the first non-Chinese kingdom one entered going West on the Silk Road. There are Tangut royal tombs near Yinchuan, their capital. Much of the art in the Buddhist grottoes at Dunhuang is from the Western Xia.
the city of Cambaluc hath such a multitude of houses, and such a vast population inside the walls and outside, that it seems quite past all possibility.
Cascar constituted a kingdom of beautiful gardens, vineyards, fine estates and cottons from where many merchants go forth about the world on trading journeys. Kashgar is a must-see for your Silk Road travel.
Chinangli is a city of Cathay. There runs through the city a great and wide river, on which a large traffic in silk goods and spices and other costly merchandize passes up and down.
Suju is a very great and noble city producing silk, gold brocade and other stuffs in great quantities; where merchants, traders and most skilful craftsmen are of great wealth but no soldiers at all. Yang-chau is Yangzhou, together with Suzhou governed by Jiangsu.
Passing a number of towns and villages, you arrive at the most noble city of Kinsay where has twelve guilds of the different crafts, and that each guild had 12,000 houses; each of these houses contains at least 12 men. There is a lake surrounding by many erected beautiful palaces and mansions.
Now Fuju is a city seat of great trade and great manufactures. There a great river flows through the city and many ships are built and launched upon the river. Enormous quantities of sugar are made and a great traffic in pearls and precious stones there. For many ships of India come to these parts bringing many merchants who traffic about the Isles of the Indies. Mawei, just outside Fuzhou, still builds ships. Many of the ships and crew for Zheng He's great voyages of the 1400s came from this area.
Now these cities are very modern and keep some historical relics to develop its local China tourism.
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