8 April,1002
Dear Parents,

How are you? I am currently in Baghdad. It is a very big and interesting city. As expected, it is a huge, crowded, overly dusty city. There were Turkoman Nomads, Indian traders, Arabian aristocrats, European entrepreneurs, and very few Chinese connoisseurs.

Sadly within Baghdad, there are quite a few African Slaves as well, bringing gold and ivory from Northern Africa. It seems as though everybody has something quite unique to trade due to their geographical location. I am going to try an unexplored route by cutting through Persia, crossing the Indus River to Delhi.

However, the caravan might have to cross the Pamirs and Transoxiana. I hope we don’t run into the Turkoman Bandits, for we have fought them before in Transoxiana. I have just come from one of the greatest Persian cities, Herat. In Herat we switched our Bactrian Camels for Dromedaries. There were Turkomans, Indians, Arabs and all kinds of religions such as Hinduism, Islam, Zoroastrianism, Christianity, and Buddhism, which was personally very interesting.

Before Herat, we stopped in Tashkent because it is a huge and important city on the Silk Route. It marks the eastern edge of the Persian Empire so it was, naturally, very different from the other places I visited. They say that in the market tents of Tashkent, one can find anything under the sun! I have been trading gentle and colorful Indian cotton, strong and useful ivory, delicious spices, like clove and cinnamon and interesting gems. My goal was to collect as much gold, silk, and glass as possible.

I find it almost crazy that the Chinese need horses, but nobody travels on horseback because horses can not survive in the desert. If you trade a bolt of silk for a horse it is horrible trade for you because now the horse will die anyway, and you will have on less bolt of silk for nothing !

It was a long, difficult, but somewhat fun journey. First, it was quite tricky to cross from Delhi to Xian because we had to go around the Himalayas. We eventually decided to go north because it would be quicker. Then, we past through the city of Dunhuang, I was quite outraged to see that the statue of Buddha made him look Chinese when he was Indian!

Interestingly, when we were crossing the Taklamakan Desert, going from Dunhuang to Kashgar, we ran into an abnormally large sandstorm. I nearly fell off my camel and could have been blown away in the storm. I guess you really can’t tell whether or not there will be a sandstorm based on the position of the stars. From Kashgar we went to Tashkent.

The route was hard because we were attacked by Turkoman Bandits. We escaped by throwing some spice in their face and fighting them off with weapons. Apart from the evil bandits trying to rob us, kill us, wound us, slow us down, and generally make it impossible to get to the next stop, it was a peaceful ride. I look forward to coming home as fast as a horse.


( Written by Jaivir Singh Bawa – age 9 years. New York ) )