Yesterday I looked at a map of Marco Polo’s travels. Ever one to be fascinated by what the great Venetian accomplished (although what Ibn Battuta did was even greater in my opinion), I noted something I’d never before taken into account. Marco Polo’s forward journey is etched into my memory like the day of my first kiss. (Really, I am that much of a history geek!) Jerusalem, Baghdad, Persia, across the Karakorum, down the Tarim Basin and across a great swathe of China to Xanadu, just north of Beijing? I know the route by heart; have read the first third of his book repeatedly. (I’ve read the whole thing, once, but have referred to the first third multiple times.) The only part of his return journey that interested me was the question of theft that occurred in Trebizond–today’s Trabzon on the Black Sea coast of Turkey. Polo doesn’t mention the theft in his book, only in his will. Curious, yes? I do wonder what exactly was stolen and why? However, it’s not tangential to my main point.
What I noticed yesterday was that my journey from Singapore to Chennai through the Straits of Malacca and a journey into Sumatra, then down the East Coast of India and up the West across the Arabian Sea to Muscat is almost an identical match to Marco’s return journey. Would that I could head across to Hormuz, up through Persia with one of the Great Khan’s solid gold passports to deliver a Mongol Princess to the Persian Khan! Alas, Iran is off limits for budgetary reasons. And what with my exhaustion really bearing down on me and with the possibility of a flat in Istanbul I’ve decided to fly out on Tuesday. Yeah, yeah, I know. Short visit to Oman and all that. And what about Yemen? Simply put: I don’t have it in my to either enjoy Yemen or do it right. But fret not: I’ll return in October or November when it is cooler. In the interim I’ll hopefully cajole and convince my father to join me. He’s been rather diffident about the suggestions I’ve made so far, but I’ve a feeling dangling the ‘Galapagos of the Arabian Sea,’ i.e. the isle of Socotra and the Dragon Blood Trees, out there like the proverbial carrot might well do the trick!
But more to the point: it’s been summer for me for over a year now. I’m sick of heat. I’m sick of dust. I’m sick of sand. I need cool weather, besides it’s Spring in Istanbul. What could be better than that?