We are finally headed home. It has been a long Journey but we have accomplished a great deal. As you know, I was fortunate to be placed on Eunuch Ghent He’s flag ship, a treasure Junk which is like a floating city with over 1,000 men. It is enormous and very luxurious, with grand accommodations for the imperial envoys. The body of the ship is brightly carved, with an animal head and glaring dragon eyes in the front and a dragon and phoenix pattern in the rear.
The bottom holds of the ship were filled with expensive silks and porcelains that we used for trade with the other nations we sited, but I’ll tell you more about that later in my letter. With a ship so large, there was always a lot of work to be done, but we were given free time each day. I was fortunate to meet many different people who performed a wide variety of Jobs aboard the ship and I learned a great deal. One of my best friends is a man who helps to communicate between the different vessels in our fleet. This is quite a task because our fleet consists of over 300 ships.
In addition to the four treasure ships, like the one I am on, there are “horse ships” hat carry horses and other tribute good, as well as building materials for repairs at sea; supply ships; water tankers; troop ships; and war ships. Communication at sea is accomplished through both sight and sound signals, and long range communication are accomplished with carrier pigeons. I found it fascinating how a fleet as big as ours could coordinate its movement and relay information back and forth so easily. My friend taught me many of the signals used and I think I may try to get work in this on the next voyage.
Sailing on the open sea can be quite dangerous as there are many times where the sit from the sea and the clouds from the sky seem to come together, making it very hard to see, but we always seemed to be able to make it through with few problems. We, of course, use a compass to plot our course (after all, it is an amazing invention by our country), along with the stars which were observed by our official astrologer. Our skill in navigating is really impressive; I can’t imagine any other country being as advanced as we are. We started our Journey in southern Asia, stopping in Tat Chon to assemble the crews for the varied ships.
This task took many months because we needed numerous men for all the ships – I heard that there are over 28,000 men in the fleet. In particular, Arabs were actively recruited because they are known for their seafaring skills. Once we were fully staffed, we departed and sailed to the Strait of Malaria, the gateway to the Indian Ocean. Because of its strategic location, Ghent He decided to build a supply base in Malaria. This was not well received by the native people and an uprising erupted; I think they were afraid we would completely take them over and try to make them Chinese subjects.
With all our men, including a rage contingent of soldiers, I am sure it looked like we wanted to make Malaria a Chinese colony, which was not really the intent. However, we were able to quickly put It clown Ana Ellen He Ana ten role leader mace King, out It was actually Ellen He who was in control – the “king” was Just Ghent He’s puppet – to assure that our mission to use Malaria as a supply base would not be interfered with by the people. After that, relations were good and I observed significant cultural diffusion between the Chinese and the Malay.
In the meantime, we built a fort on top off hill, rounded two stockade walls to serve as our supply depot. A contingent of soldiers was also assigned to the fort upon our departure, but they did not hamper the Malay way of life. Upon leaving Malaria, we sailed to Ceylon where we were met with great resistance. Although Ghent He professed this to be a peacekeeping mission with the purpose being to unify seas and continents, he was ready to use force where necessary. Therefore, when the native people greeted us with hostility, we were ready to take the island by force.
A battle erupted. We fought hard and eventually overcame them. Ghent He severely punished their king for his aggressive actions and demented a great deal of tribute in recompense. While I know Ghent He considers this to be a peaceful mission, I can understand the actions of the people of Ceylon. Seeing our massive fleet, complete with many warships, cannons, and large numbers of soldiers, I am sure they felt very threatened and sensed the need to defend themselves. I am sure they believed we were going to invade their land and try to take it over.
It was Just very unfortunate how it all worked out. After we left Ceylon, we charted a course for India. We docked in Calcium and I had time to explore the city. India is a fascinating place, the origin of the three main religions of the world – Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity. As I toured the city, I saw many Chinese influences in the Indian culture. For instance, I observed this marvelous puppet show on the tale of the Monkey King. It was obvious that we had good relations with the Indian people and that they valued the ideas and culture that we brought to them.
Our trade with the people of the Malabar Coast was mostly for spices, although there were other special commodities that were traded for as well. After the problems we encountered in Ceylon, India was a welcome port. Our next port of call was Arabia and, while in India, we had recruited a number of local Arab pilots to help steer us to our destination. It was interesting to watch them navigate by the stars, Just as we do. I wondered how this skill was started, but I must believe that the Arabs learned it from the Chinese, even though it is possible that it was brought to us by Arabian traders.
Either way, we made it to the Straits of Horror and dropped anchor off the shore of Horror. We also went to Doffer and Aden. The trade here was amazing, with items from around the world being offered. Our main interest was in Arabian horses, but we acquired an assortment of other interesting items as well. There was also an exchange of ideas between our people and the Arabians, particularly in the field of medicine. This was spurred by the publication of an Arabian medical text in China. We recruited doctors and pharmacologists and our doctors spent much time learning from the Arab scientists.
We traded for an assortment of medicines, particularly to combat the plague that has Eden troubling our country. I nerve Is much respect Detente our peoples Ana It seems that we both are learning from each other. During our stay in Arabia, Ghent He left us for a time when he went on his Hajj to Mecca since he was a Muslim. When he returned, we finished our business and continued our voyage. Our final destination was the African coast; however it is a very dangerous coastline to navigate.
The Arabs offered us help, but we still lost a number of ships on this final leg of our Journey. The African cities we visited, Mogadishu, Melinda, and Mambas, were quite grand with impressive buildings. It was obvious that trade had made them rather wealthy. The people there had very dark skin and unusual customs, but there experience in trading was evident. They were very confident in their dealings with us. Our interest was in elephant tusks, which have much softer ivory than our Asian elephants; rhino horns, which are mostly used for medicinal purposes; and tortoise shells. We also saw some amazing animals, which we traded for as well, to bring back as gifts to our emperor to add to his menagerie.
I particularly liked the ostriches and zebras, but the most spectacular creature was his rather strange animal with a very long neck and long, spindly legs soaring quite tall, with a unique spotted coat. It has to be the fabled unicorn which will undoubtedly confer good fortune upon the emperor when it is presented to him. I wish I could be there when he first sees this marvelous creature.
We are now headed home. Our holds, emptied of all the silk and porcelain we left with, are now filled with a wonderful assortment of goods from faraway lands. It has been a remarkable experience; I have seen and learned so much. China certainly as a presence in these distant places and is well respected. Our naval fleet seems to be second to none and I am sure that future excursions will be Just as successful as we have been.
I know that supporting our naval efforts is hard on the people of China, but from what I have seen and heard, it has gained us a superior spot in the world. Signs of our culture can be seen almost everywhere we traveled and most people welcomed us and paid tribute to us. What an exciting time for our country! But before I can think ahead to the future, there is much work to be done to get us home.