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Marco Polo

In about half a 13. century there were two brothers in Venice in Italy. Their names were Nicolo Polo and Maffeo Polo, they both were businessmen and the first Europeans that traveled to China. They hoped to find there new markets. When they reached China they were welcomed by the emperor and they stayed there for some time before returning home. 11 years later they made the second journey to China. Nicolo Polo took this time his son Marco with him. Marco was 17 and while they were travelling to China, he kept a diary in which he recorded his experiences. While they were crossing Afghanistan, Marco became ill and this delayed them for a year. Several times they had to change their route to avoid wars and bandits. Their journey took 3 years and when they arrived in China the date was 1275. The Polo family spent many years in China. Nicolo and Maffeo became a rich businessmen and Marco became the emperor’s friend and one of his advisers. While he was working for the emperor, he traveled all over the Far East on imperial business. The emperor made him governor of the city of Yangchow and a member of his imperial council. Marco saw in China very wonderful things unknown in Europe like stone that would burn (coal), a mineral like cloth that wouldn’t burn (asbestos), a liquid mineral that could be used as fuel (petroleum), enormous nuts with juice inside (coconuts). Marco was surprised to find that China was more civilized than Italy, too. He saw there for the first time the public parks, canals with bridges that ships could go under, underground drainage systems, a police force, a fire brigade and a postal service. In 1292 they decided to return home. When they arrived in Venice, they told everyone about their experiences and Marco published his diary. But people thought they were lying. Nobody believed their fantastic stories about the strange countries they had visit and the wonderful things they had seen.

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