So, my semester of medieval travelogues is done, since last Thursday. Since I tortured the students with the original latin text, the discussion was much less animated than I would have liked to. However, the reading of the latin text went much better than I would have thought.
The source of this last class were the letters John of Montecorvino wrote from Kanbaliq (today's Beijing) in 1305 and 1306. Even though, the informations about the daily life of a Franciscan friar in China were rather limited, there are still interesting details to be found, like his traduction of the holy texts into Uighuric, one of the written languages, existing in medieval Mongolia. It's a language from the turk family, which was used by Turkish Christians in Middle Asia. (Turkish means from one of the Turkish ethnic groups.)
John of Monte Corvino is also a pretty interesting person. He was born in 1247, if he remembers his birthyear correctly in the letter, and already since 1276, he travelled around in the Middle East, Persia, Armenia, before he was sent to Kublai Khan in 1287. He probaby wrote other letters, when he reached Tauris in Persia. He arrived in China, according to the letter, in 1294, probably after the death of Kublai Khan, and remained there until his death, in 1328. In 1307, he was appointed as the first and only real archbishop of Kanbaliq.
The official english translation of the letters was made by Henry Yule: From: Henry Yule, ed. and trans., Cathay and the Way Thither
, 2nd ed., (rev. by H. Cordier), 4 vols. (London; Hakluyt Society, 1913-1916), pp. 45-51 (I found an (almost) complete translation on this side: http://www.thenagain.info/Classes/Sources/MonteCorvino.html