The place in the photo above is called Hangzhou. It's where Dan Roy ends up in the climax of his latest adventure. While writing this book, and as I have delved deeper into China, one thing has always struck me. Why did they not, like the Europeans, sail around Africa? They certainly had the ability. As it happens, the answer lies here, in Hangzhou.
During the Song dynasty, which reached its peak in the 11th/12th century, China was the world leader in shipbuilding. And Hangzhou was the center of it. Huge ships were built here, sturdy enough to sail across the "seven seas." The most sea worthy of them were five times, yes five times, the size of the ships that Christopher Columbus used to sail from Portugal to America. Each ship could hold thousands of men, and the Song kings had hundreds of these ships built. One of the Emperor's men wanted to undertake the voyage. Hangzhou happens to be China's inland gateway to the East China Sea. As you can see in the photo, the region is traversed by multiple large waterways that open into the sea.
But the Emperor was too busy fighting the Mongols in the North. He said hmm maybe, and then he died. The Song dynasty went into decline, and was followed by the Yuan dynasty.
The Yuan dynasty were not shipbuilders, or sea farers. They went back to China's old preoccupation - protecting its land from invaders.
Imagine if the thousands of Chinese had undertaken that voyage, and landed in Africa, and from there to Europe and then...who knows? We might all be speaking Mandarin now! A sober thought.
As they say in China - Knowledge changes destiny.
What lies in Dan Roy's destiny? All will be revealed imminently. Almost there with the novel, another 2-3 weeks of work left. Till then, Zai Jian comrades.