- from Marco Polo
Imagine taking a 24-year trip! If you left at age 10, you’d come home at age 34. Marco Polo (1254–1324) was 17 when he left his Venice home in 1271.
He came back at age 41. For most of those years, he traveled in China, India, and Southeast Asia. He was an ambassador for Mongol Emperor Kublai Khan.
Do you find that hard to believe? You’re not alone. Many people back then thought he was making things up to show off. There’s even some proof that he exaggerated some of his reports. English kids used to respond to big lies by saying, “It’s a Marco Polo.” Some scholars doubt Marco Polo even reached China. Some think he got his stories from Persian and Arab traders in the Near East (Southwest Asia and Northeast Africa).
The full truth may never be known. But it doesn’t even matter. The biggest thing Marco Polo did was to tell the story of his travels – real or made up – to a writer. His book of stories, called A Description of the World, was a huge success in Europe. It may even have inspired Christopher Columbus.