[Image courtesy: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:John_Hill]
This is your brother, Kong. How are you? I really hope your wife and kids are doing great. I would like to inform you that I have been hired to find some Indian ivory for the cheapest price. I have been given this job with an amazing caravan from this generous man who was willing to pay me. The reason I accepted this job is because I needed some money to help out my family since we are struggling. But I am not telling you this so you can help me with my money issues. I am telling you this so maybe you can meet up with me somewhere. But moving on, not only do I want to find ivory, but for this journey I want to discover new religions and meet new people who will help me one day. But, My crew thinks this is going to be a very dangerous journey because of many geographic features. But, I am determined to get past these dangers for my family.
We first started off in Chang’an and tried to find Ivory there, but we couldn’t so we moved on. We followed the big river , the Wei river for around 250 miles to 300 miles. We had to reach the Yellow River valley after we followed the Wei River. With stops at night and with our camel’s speed with cargo we took 28 days. Actually, when we tried to find ivory in Chang’an, I met this merchant who told me that the whole river is around 510 miles. What do you know? You learn something new everyday. So right after we reached the Yellow River Valley, which is the biggest river in Asia. So right when we passed the Yellow River valley We finally reached the Steppe Lands. The Steppe Lands was very easy to get by. Our camels had plenty of grass to eat and it was very flat with great temperature, so it was good for my group as well. It looked like there was an annual precipitation since it rained a few times. But my biggest worry right then was the Gobi Desert. My caravan and I already planned a journey to miss the Taklamakan, but it was hard to miss the Gobi Desert without coming back late or hitting another obstacle. My caravan are very smart and I knew we could get past the Gobi Desert. The icy winds were a big problem for us but we passed the desert. There were many rocks as well through this desert. And then we finally reached Dunhuang.
One trade that I made on this journey was glass beads for 25 emporios. The reason I bought this is because my wife wanted many glass beads as a decoration. The funny thing is that right when I was about to make a deal for 40 emporios, the merchant was impatient and just said 30 emporios. I tried to smart this situation out and take it down to 25 emporios and he accepted. My group was right behind me and they were laughing their brains out. But it was not my fault. You’ve got to hear a man (or woman) before you just cut them off. I’m just happy I got some glass beads for a cheap price and that I have enough money to buy ivory with this trade. Now that I think about it. These glass beads might attract more customers to our mini market back at home. Well, that’s for my wife to choose. These glass beads are officially are my dear wife’s.
As I first arrived in Dunhuang, I was taken by the beauty of the Buddhist temples that had surrounded this magnificent city. I wanted to give it a try and went inside. The outside of the temple was luring me, but when I took a step inside, it astonished me. There were many people there. As I looked around, one of them came up to me.
“ You don’t look like someone from around here, would you like me to tell you some things about Buddhism?” Said the man.
“Yes that would be great, thank you.” I replied happily.
So he told me that it was a non-theistic religion and that they never thought Buddha was a god. He also told me that Buddha was a man who woke up and truly saw how the world works. Those words of wisdom and how Buddha saw the world differently made me think differently as well, almost like Buddha. I then realised that this religion is so astonishing that I wanted it to stay with me forever. So from then I converted to Buddhism and prayed like they did. So now you know, I am Buddhist.
Just as I was about to leave, something in the corner of my eye caught me. They were selling Indian Ivory for 70 emporios. Perfect! I found it, I found Indian ivory for a very cheap price. I called my group in and then we even tried to make a bargain for 65, but they didn’t move it by a single emporio. But who cares, I still found cheap Ivory. But we have to get back. As we went back, we followed the exact same route. But this time, we knew what to expect from the Gobi Desert. But sadly that’s where I wrote this letter and I am giving it to the couriers. I will venture on into the Gobi Desert. And I promise you, I will get past it. Right now, My group is calculating the date we will be back.