Marco Polo, the world-famous Italian traveler and explorer of the 13th century, visited Hangzhou on his travels. He was overwhelmed by what he saw, and referred to the city as "beyond dispute the finest and the noblest in the world". 700 years later, a “modern Marco Polo” has been given the opportunity to enjoy this privilege, and earn himself 40,000 Euros into the bargain.
The Hangzhou Travel Committee launched a search for the “modern Marco Polo - Doctor of Hangzhou” last March, and promised a salary of 40,000 Euros (340,000 RMB) to the successful candidate.
Liam Bates (Chinese name Li Mu), a young man from Switzerland, was hired by the city after seeing off all challengers. He will market Hangzhou to the world as the “Doctor of Hangzhou”, by sharing his experiences in the city. He came to China on his own at the age of 16. He has studied Chinese Kongfu, cross talk, and erhu, and he loves Chinese tea. He speaks Chinese with a Beijing lilt. He says that he came to China at the same age as Marco Polo, and like his Venetian forebear, he also loves Chinese culture.
Marco Polo traveled southward along the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal and reached Quanzhou in Fujian province. He marveled at every town he passed, and found that Hangzhou was the most prosperous. The new “Doctor of Hangzhou” will also revisit the canal, following in Marco Polo’s tracks.