Travelogues are valuable historical sources, but they must be used with great caution. The stories that travelers give out with the regards to their journeys and the places they visited are always essential sources for understanding of the past. As outsiders, travelers always note the elements of a culture which is too commonplace for local commentators to mention. Apart from these travelers always give some insight in the manner that their own society understood in place in relation to other cultures. Throughout history, there are several travelers' accounts which act as valuable historical sources. It is peculiar how Judge and Langdon devoted much attention to analyze travel writings. Other literary scholars have also discussed travel writings and historians provided insightful analysis of individual travelers as a valuable source of history. Rare of individual travelers study focused on the nature of travel accounts, their meanings as reflections of their times, their historical influence and the challenges they raise as historical sources.
My homeland has always been a magical place for me since I was a little boy. I am not just obsessed with this country; I love everything about it, every creature and the surrounding environment. I made the decision to travel across some parts of the world and my experience was great especially in Islamic countries. I was able to notice some aspects or cultures of the societies that I frequently visited. I took the opportunity to investigate some of these communities and their cultures as well as some other essential historical aspects in these societies. Although, sometimes the feeling of deep commitment or attachment to my own culture and society made me to tendentiously misinterpret the aspects of the societies that I visited. Occasionally, I thought that my principal interest was to critique my own society and so this clouded my vision which affected my interpretation and biases to some extent. I had to deal with my personal interests, prejudices, and biases.
My motivation was that I learn from these societies in terms of cultural, religious, social, and political issues. This is because history sees no better way to learn about older days and past lands than through the stories of those who visited those places. Despite some of the above mentioned challenges may be a hindrance, this travelogue still provides an essential insights into the aspects or details of historical times. It will be a valuable source of descriptive past evidence for the historical study of today's and future generations. Moreover, it will make possible the reconstruction of history some of the stunning accounts of ancient towns. For example, through my visit to India I was able to record the encounters of mystical and magical land. Although, my travel account may be more of recent history than ancient history as some of the details could be traced in subsequent Greek literature.
There were several reasons why people travel beyond countries borders and their own societies. I travelled to these areas to satisfy my curiosity about some of the communities like the Chinese and Indians among others. The quest for educational and economic opportunities also drove me to travelling. This was significantly facilitated with the development of cheap, reliable, and cheap forms of mass tourism and long-distance transport. I discovered that the collapse of the Constantinople in 1453 to the Turks resulted to the search for new routes by traders and merchants which led to the emergence of the 'New World'. Some of the aged people whom I interacted with told me that discovery and exploration voyages soon became common, with some of the European rulers contesting among themselves for control over the riches and trade routes.
In my visit to Egypt, I was able to view that one of the stones produced by Harkhuf, Egyptian caravan leader in his tomb dating to 2200 BCE. This stone tells more about the Egyptian culture than it tells about the places and people that the caravan leader met while he was trading. On the other hand, it also provides detailed and valuable descriptions of the activities that Egyptians historically engaged in, as well as the customs and common habits that the locals viewed as remarkable. Therefore, this stone was historical source about the historical cultural practices in Egypt. In the nineteenth and twentieth century's, when Euro-American and European peoples dominated several parts of the world, several Egyptians travelled out of their homesteads and reconnoitered the distant parts of the world as traders. Those who evidently subscribed to these view are the several historical travelogues published and produced by Hakluyt Society of London since 1846. Richard Hakluyt, who produced his own several travelogues collections in the sixteenth century, saw travelogues as effective tools which promote economic and political expansion. Many of the society's published travelogues bearing Hakluyt's name established a dense wed of historical documentation which legitimized the presence of the European and Euro-Americans in the larger world.
In China, I was able to collect as well as develop the facts to strike a balance between objective and subjective reporting. This is especially true in western culture where travelers such as Homer's Odyssey established a foundation of travel writers. This was followed by Greek authors like Herodotus and Ctesius, who was named the 'father of travel romance' for leaving legacy of fantastic monsters and creatures that improved the genre of European travelers writing to Renaissance. However, the huge number of ancient travelers of 1500 BCE and the period before it largely came from the East, particularly the Muslim world and China. Most of these historical events focused on pilgrimage and trade. For example, Zhang Qian, who was an imperial envoy from the Han emperor, also traveled across Central Asia between the periods of 139 and 126 BCE. He then returned with accurate details about western countries, which was later used by the Han dynasty to colonize some of the western countries. I can say that many journeys towards Muslim nations were as Pilgrimages. A pilgrimage is a spiritual-motivated journey across several religions and it also encouraged several Buddhists pilgrims to make an account of their movement from Asia where they believed Buddha lived and taught. Towards the end of fifteenth century, Asian and Muslim historical sources were slowly overshadowed by new sources of European missionaries, adventurers, merchants, and explorers. These new developments were as a result of the increasing number of literate Europe explorers and the invention of filming press.
During the Islamic civilization of North Africa and South Asia in the 14th century, history played a fundamental role into integrating these regions into a network of cultural exchange and trade. This encouraged global transformation and exploration of the world by several travelers like me and Ibn Batuta. For instance, I came across Rihla literature in the Islamic world and entire genre of travel literature by Muslims was discovered from making pilgrimage to Mecca, which is the fifth pillar of Islam. Between 1000 AD and 1500 AD, there was massive expansion of Islam in Africa, Europe, and Asia. Islam followers migrated to different new lands with the view of spreading religious beliefs and cultures. Several Islamic armies conquered and expanded their territories as merchants introduced their culture and religion to different parts of the world along the trade routes that they were using. Although, I described myself as a Muslim who identified with Holy Qur'an and the teachings of Mohammed, this journey taught me several other things about Islam. This was the same time when Mongol military rulers of West Central Asia and Persia converted to Islam. During my journey, I managed to travel widely with the view of protecting Islamic religion. I left my homeland to Medina and Mecca on the Arabian Peninsula on hajj or a holy pilgrimage. I visited several Islamic learning centers as well as traveled to new areas in the name of looking for honor, adventure, and historical materials. At some point, the President of Egypt instructed a young scholar to record my observations and experiences concerning the Islamic world. We worked and coordinated for two years and later produced an article of travels or the rihla. For example, human sacrifice was a common practice among the Aztec society when it comes to sacrificial and temple ceremonies. Despite this, several people who not understand and hence questions why human beings have to be used as sacrifices. This was achieved through archaeological excavations which was considered an extremely and costly custom across the world. This was something that I had difficulties in understanding just like Roman Catholics Christians could not understand the use of human beings as sacrifice. I traveled across the world and visited several Islamic countries. I first travelled from my homeland to Syria, Egypt, and Arabia. At one point of my journey, I traveled to Anatolia, the Asian Steep, and the Black Sea Region. I then went to Ceylon and Indians, after which I visited Southeast Asia. He then travelled to Spain, West Africa, and North Africa before ending my adventure and going back to my home country.
Bentley, J. (2004). Travel Narratives. World Histroy. Hawai: University of Hawai.
Dunn, R. (2009). The Adventures of Ibn Battuta, a Muslim Traveller of the Fourteenth Century. San Franscisco : University of California Press.
Milwright, M. (2010). An Introduction to Islamic Archaeology. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Waines, D. (2009). An Introduction to Islam. London: Cambridge University Press.