These days, buying wants and necessities is getting more convenient by the minute. A vast selection of clothes and any kind of goods that you can think of can easily be acquired in huge malls and shopping complexes It has also gotten much easier these days because of the internet; anything—from food to clothes, from cars to houses—you can buy with a simple click of a button. Sometimes it gets too easy that all the effort you’ll need to is standing up to get the package delivered right in front of your doorstep.
Trade and commerce has been on earth since about 150,000 years ago, and obviously we’ve come a long way since those days when traders had camels instead of pick-up trucks or baskets instead of paper boxes and plastic containers. But how did they do it back then? Before all of the fancy brands around today, however, people would transport goods to places with methods that are now pretty much extinct.
Also known as the Silk Routes, the Silk Road is a trading route of from ancient China. The Chinese silk trade originally just happened within the empire. At this point, they were already using caravans that transport silk to different parts of the region. It’s been said that sometimes, there were small tribes from Central Asia that would attack these trade caravans to get their commodities, and so the Han Dynasty was driven to make their military defenses stronger for better protection.
Zhang Qian (traditional Chinese: Chan Ch’ien), a Chinese traveler, was said to be the first to make contact with these tribes. He asked these small tribes in an alliance to expand the silk trade, and today he is considered as one of the most important people who plays an important role in Chinese trade and commerce. His missions was some of the biggest reasons how different kingdoms and products that at that time were unfamiliar the ancient Chinese civilization.
This ancient Silk road started in then-capital Chang’an (now known as Xi’an), the ancient Chinese kingdom capital. The trade route ran through the province of Gansu via Tianshui, Lanzhou, Wuwei, Zhangye, Jiuquan, Jiayuguan, and Dunhuang. Studies say that the total length of this whole trade route is about 10,000 kilometers, around 3,000 of it is part of China’s territory.
This is a place that extends to more than 600,000 square miles, about four times the size of the state of California. Not only is the road massive; it is also said to be one of the most inhospitable terrains on earth at that time—the desert scorching hot and has bad deadly weather conditions such as sandstorms and lack of much-needed rainfall. The route was not one single path–the roads had branches passing across huge deserts and different mountains—certainly far from our trade shipping methods today.
The Silk trade is one of the most important and treasured trade routes linking Europe and Asia. Chinese silk was huge back then; it was a hit with the Roman noblemen and senators who loved to wear silk toga, and famous with the fashionable cities in Europe. It was not only silk that was traded, other treasured such as spices, dyes, stones, and even exotic animals all equally contributed to the trades’ success.
Today, there are a lot of Silk road tours offered to travelers who want to see the path where ancient commerce once thrived. The best months to travel here is during May and October, when the temperatures aren’t extreme, when there’s no searing hot summer and icy winters. There are guest houses available in different locations in the cities of Dunhuang, Kashgar, Lanzhou, Turpan, and Urumqi.
Some of the major cities offer in the tours are: Xi’an, Jiayuguan, Dunhuang, Turpan, and Kashgar. It is also possible to see the tracks where Marco Polo (one of the first Europeans to travel the Silk Road) traveled. When you’re on any of these Silk Road tours, you will pass by temples and other sacred items and relics, so you must always make sure that you give respect to everything and everyone you encounter. Traveling to these different routes will give you everything you need to know about Silk Road history.
The great Silk Road is still popular these days, carrying a memory of a very important stage in history that has molded everything about trade and commerce. Not only has it shaped a culture, it has also made China what it is today, that’s why visiting this place will be nothing short of educational and exciting.