Christopher Columbus’s vision of reaching Marco Polo’s Cathay led him to accidentally discover a whole new continent.3 But a willful man, he continued to search-even after it had become apparent to others that he had not been anywhere near Asia-for evidence that if he had not reached the land of the Great Khan, he had been very close to it. The Portuguese-led by Vasco da Gama-also set out to find a viable route to access the Far East, carrying letters from King Manuel of Portugal to Prester John, the mythical ruler of the Christians in the Orient. Prester John and his people were nowhere to be seen.4 But Vasco da Gama, unlike Columbus, managed to reach Asia, and for the first time, opened the eastern seagates to “marvels of the East” for the Europeans (1498). In the following decade, the Portuguese virtually monopolized the spice trade in South and Southeast Asia.