The Armchair Traveler Club

Archive for November, 2006


Posted by mukikamu on November 25, 2006

This slightly square-headed Austrian has done an amazing anthropological work in South Sudan in the beginning of the XXth Century. Gari Gari is full with beautiful pictures and gives amazing insight to the lives of the natives.  There are great observations about daily life (like how nomads blow into the back of cows to get them give more milk and how breaking the front teeth of children is a way to enhance their social standing 🙂 ) and all documented with pictures that present a world that looks so exotic that I assumed this is where character designers got the ideas for Star Trek or Star Gate. You may browse some of his pictures here.

artwork_images_1050_107974_hugo-adolf-bernatzik.jpg imagesnypl.jpg images2nypl.jpg

Somehow there is abundance of African travel books from this era, but I guess it just shows how popular it was to go to safari at the time. I just wish there would be as much books from other parts of the world (ex. South America) as well. Bernatzik travelled to many places, but this was his only book I found. Albums with his photographs are more easy to find.

Posted in Books, Sudan | 1 Comment »


Posted by mukikamu on November 13, 2006


Parizek a czech adventurer traveled to Belgian Congo between 1929 – 1930 and visited many small villages including Mukikamu, Bumbuli, Cullipulli which are the funniest names I have ever seen! He had a very knowledgeable guide called Kpveke-vo, who spoke many languages and even traveled to Europe. At that time this was quite an achievement for a local. Parizek’s book is a series of lighthearted episodes, among which you meet carachters like Panzu Fumukulu, the king of the bajaks and Vabenga, the chief of Mukikamu, whose eyes are so crooked, tha he can “look two devils in the eye at once” therefore is very powerful. The book states local legends and tales (like that of the crocodile man) and takes you hippo hunting with the natives. It’s a joy to read about the author’s encounters with local chiefs which has a highly tiresome protocol and about the tam-tam drum network that spreads news between villages amazingly efficiently.

Posted in AFRICA, Books, Congo, Travelers | Leave a Comment »


Posted by mukikamu on November 13, 2006

I have read an amazing book about a blind traveler in the XIXth Century. Jason Roberts has done a priceless job in bringing this role-setting man to life again. The book is truly breathtaking. Holman’s adventures sound like very far-fetched fiction. It’s insane how he could travel the world alone at those times. To top it all, it turns out his only pal was deaf.  Here are some of the many increadible things he managed to achieve alone with very limited funds and no sight at all:

  • explore the Brazilian jungle
  • travel through Siberia
  • go elephant hunting on horseback in the jungles of Sri Lanka and actually shoot a gun in action
  • travel on horseback across uncivilized parts of South Africa
  • climb the mast of a sailing ship
  • negotiate for the English with nomad tribes without understanding a word of their languge
  • climb the Vesuv before eruption

It’s so unbelievable your jaw drops!

ukcoversmall.jpg Jason Roberts: A Sense of the World

How a Blind Man Became History’s Greatest Traveler

 Remember the name of James Holman. It has been forgotten long enough.

Posted in AFRICA, AMERICA, ASIA, Books, Brazil, England, EUROPE, France, Italy, Madagascar, Russia, South Africa, South America, Sri Lanka, Travelers | Leave a Comment »

Hello world!

Posted by mukikamu on November 9, 2006

There is an excellent Hungarian series of travel books from the 1960s-1970s I accidentally put my hands on and I discovered a lot of interesting volumes and authors that give different insight to certain places and certain eras. I am really hooked, so I started this blog to spread the word. 

Many people debate whether the importance of traditional travel writing has diminished due to new medias that provide up-to-date visual information. People prefer watching a travel shows or running through guidebooks loaded with photos to reading travel diaries and detailed books from travelers of old times. I however am convinced that these travel writings add emotional value to far-away places and offer highly entertaining experience. These are not guidebooks, but collections of the memories of travelers from the XIX.-XX. Century.  There are some amazingly crazy people among the authors and very interesting discoveries and experiences. I enjoy them immensely, but see for yourself!

Mukikamu is an African village in Congo that is described by a Checz traveler in the 1920s in one of the travel books I have read. The village has a slightly insane chief and very lively citizens and the enchanting story is a good example of how these long-forgotten travel writings still have a lot to say about travels to foreign lands. The blog aims to re-discover old-timer travelers’ books and provide snacks for literature loving vagabonds.

Posted in Travelers | 1 Comment »