Border controls were very much a part of medieval life, just as they are now. Ibn Battutah had to put up with security checks and bureaucracy. But he took it in his stride, noting down the minutiae and providing another nugget for readers:

“I then travelled to the town of Balbais; it is a large town with many fruit gardens, but I did not see there anyone whom I should wish to mention. I came next to al-Salihiyah, after which we entered the sands and halted at post-stations on the way through. At each of these stations there is a hostelry which they call a khan, where travellers alight with their beasts, and outside each khan is a public watering-place and a shop at which the traveller may buy what he requires for himself and his beast. Among these stations is the well-known place called Qatya where zakat is collected from the merchants, their goods are examined, and their baggage most rigorously searched. There are government offices here, with officers, clerks and notaries, and its daily revenue is a thousand dinars. No one may pass this place in the direction of Syria without a passport from Egypt, nor into Egypt without a passport from Syria, as a measure of protection for a person’s property and of precaution against spies from Iraq. This road is under guarantee of the bedouins. At nightfall they smooth down the sand so that no mark is left on it, then the governor comes in the morning and examines the sand. If he finds any track on it he requires the Arabs to fetch the person who made it, and they set out in pursuit of him and never fail to catch him. They then bring him to the governor, who punishes him as he sees fit.”

From Qatya, Ibn Battutah would travel to Ghazzah (Gaza), al-Khalil (Hebron), Bait Lahm (Bethlehem) and al-Quds (Jerusalem) where he would seek out the Dome of the Rock and Christian sanctuaries.

Image Attribution: The image above is sourced from Wikimedia Commons and scanned from a navigational chart prepared by the Portuguese cartographer Fernão Vaz Dourado in 1570 (preserved in the Huntington Library, San Marino, USA).

Reference: The Travels of Ibn Battutah (edited by Tim Mackintosh-Smith)