mukikamu

The Armchair Traveler Club

Archive for the ‘AFRICA’ Category

P. J. O’ROUKE: PEACE KILLS

Posted by mukikamu on January 30, 2009

I never expected P. J. O’Rouke’s book to be a travel book, but it turned out to be a worth-to-mention experience. I say this for several reasons. Firstly, the book is about his travel experiences to war-torn regions of the world and he manages to stay personal rather than menacingly political. The places he visits come to life much better than in anything I read about these countries lately (not that I have read anything much apart from the daily news) and it’s always rewarding to have an insiders’ view. I particularly enjoyed his chapters about Egypt and Kuwait because I could connect to the local daily life. Although O’Rouke is stubbornly seeing silliness in almost all kind of human action and sneers with maximum vehemence, his book is quite enjoyable. Then again he is famous of his comic style, that makes you laugh despite all your judgement of his message. He is the guy who you can never argue with because he makes you admit how ridiculous you are after your first statement. I find his sarcastic approach an easy way of getting away with things, nevertheless I admit that sometimes lightness of approach is a good way to get to an audience and deal with heavy issues. As they would say in popular magazines: “ A thumbs-up!”

Locations: Israel, Kuwait, Egypt, Washington, Iraq, Iwo Jima, Kosovo

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Posted in AFRICA, Egypt, Japan, U.S. | 2 Comments »

ERIC NEWBY: ON THE SHORES OF THE MEDITERRANEAN

Posted by mukikamu on October 2, 2008

Eric Newby is much praised by critics for his distinctive style, tireless enthusiasm and ‘insider-like’ travel stories and it’s true that he has a special point of view. Not many people are as knowledgeable and well-travelled as he is. However, I have been struggling with his book for two years now.

First I sat down to read it from start to finish, but his writing was tiring and I gave up several times. I figured that the best way to get through his book was probably to pick up the relevant chapters before going on a vacation to get an insight on the places on the menu. This seemed to work for a while, because you’re less likely to overload and if you see that you only have a 20-40 pages to read, you are more likely to push through. Nevertheless, by the time we got back from our holiday in Greece and Turkey, I was sincerely glad to tuck the book away.
 
I can see why Newby was one of the great travel writers of our times, but I miss the sense of discovery from his accounts. He knows everything about the places he goes, but he is at times annoyingly informative, sober and well-educated for my taste. I personally miss the romanticism and mysticism from his travels. His English is very uniquely classy which is distinctive, but harder to a non-native like me to read.

I don’t give up easily though. He is only on the bookshelf until the next trip to the Mediterranean.

Posted in AFRICA, Albania, Algeria, Croatia, Egypt, EUROPE, Greece, Italy, Libanon, Macedonia, Morocco, Spain, Syria, travel, travelbook, Travelers, Turkey | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

GERALD DURRELL

Posted by mukikamu on August 11, 2008

What bliss it is to re-read one of Gerald Durrell’s books! I found the beautiful Penguin edition of the Corfu Trilogy (My family and other animals/Birds, beasts and relatives/Garden of the Gods) in the corner bookshop and there was no way to resist purchase. I took it away with me on vacation and it was just the perfect companion. My family and other animals is hillarious still and the magic of Durell’s storytelling fills you with warmth that you have much known in your childhood. Adventurous, sunny, witty, it’s a must.  If you are living in a city everyday, it’s all you need to unwind and live on a paradise island in your heart.

 

After finishing, I started Zoo in my luggage right away.

Posted in AFRICA, Books, Cameroon, EUROPE, Greece | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

UPDATES ABOUT THESIGER

Posted by mukikamu on August 11, 2008

I found some interesting articles on my much admired gentleman adventurer Wilfred Thesiger here and here.

Posted in AFRICA, ASIA, Books, Etiophia, India, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Travelers, Yemen | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

WILFRED THESIGER

Posted by mukikamu on November 14, 2007

If you care to read about the wisdom and meekness of the Desert and its Bedu people, Arabian Sands is your Bible. This enchanted and spiritual volume completely satisfied my hunger for the romanticism and mysticism of travel and brought the dreamlike and psyhedelic part of the Arab world directly to my heart. Thesiger is an extraordinary bloke, stubborn in his pursuit of adventure and uncompromising in his extreme rules of assimilation. Living with the nomadic Arab tribes of the Empty Quarter between 1945-50, just before the discovery of oil, he gives a thorough insight to how locals cope with  living under desperately harsh circumstances. The key of survival lies in the power of community; alone you are doomed in the waterless sands. Reading this book you will reach to the very root of the fatalism, generosity, poetry, pride, humour, courage, patience and the uncompromising hospitality of Arabic people. The landscape here has dominance over personality and somewhere between the starry skies of snow cold sand and the windy dunes of blinding sun ‘basic truths emerge’. I was completely enchanted.

 “For this cruel land can cast a spell which no temperate clime can match.”

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More about Wilfred Thesiger here>> and here>>

His pictures of Arabia here>>

Posted in Etiophia, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen | 2 Comments »

UPDATE

Posted by mukikamu on October 30, 2007

The reason behind the slow update of the blog is that I have been reading some not-travel-related novels as well as less eligible Hungarian travel books. I thought the latter were less interesting for most of my fellow AIRMCHAIR TRAVELER CLUB members, however, I was wrong. I stumbled upon some rare jewels and it would be a shame not to give a short appetizer and an update of what I’ve been up to.

  • Jappán is a LOL funny depiction of a trip a popular Hungarian comedian (Sándor Badár) and his karate freak buddy had made to Japan in the 80’s. They traveled through the U.S.S.R. and encountered many hilarious adventures while trying to find their way without money and any of the necessary languages skills. The book is basically a simple scripted conversation where the heroes of the stories revive memories. Nothing fancy or organized, no useful tips, just heart-warming storytelling. I rarely write this, but you just can’t put it down. Very readable, highly enjoyable. Lovely. 

  • Tamás Régi is a Hungarian anthropology student in love with Africa. His book about his travels (Among the nomad tribes of East Africa) was a revelation because he managed to reestablish my trust towards modern travel writers. I found his volume very interesting and honest. I pray that he would get enough funding for another publication. 

  • Salmon fishing in the Yemen of Paul Torday is completely non-fiction and offers light entertainment. Quarter of it is set in the Yemen, but I haven’t checked on the locations. 

  • Ian McEwan’s Atonement was a beach read for Crete and didn’t deceive. An epic love story with thought-provoking ending. I must admit it was a pre-study for the film version that still hasn’t come out here.  

 I also have a real treat coming up soon, so watch these spaces!

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Posted in AFRICA, ASIA, England, EUROPE, France, HUNGARIAN TRAVELERS, Japan, Kenya, Russia, Yemen | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

GREEN HILLS OF AFRICA

Posted by mukikamu on August 10, 2007

I have read several books about safaris and although I really enjoy his novels, my favourite Africa writer is not Ernest Hemingway. It escapes me why. He was a great fan of hunting in Africa and has written fiercely about his inextinguishable passion. His books, Green Hills of Africa, The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber and The Snows of Kilimanjaro have everything a dreamy Africa reader could ask for, but I somehow lack a slightly more modest scientific and anthropological approach. However, these works are very personal classics of a Nobel-prized writer and it is unquestionable that the blunt and honest portrayal of the soul of White Hunters makes these volumes (especially the last two) literary treats. There is no way a devoted fan of the continent can go round them.

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Christopher Ondaatje has written a biography about Hemnigway and these hunting years. Check out a short interview with him HERE.

Posted in AFRICA, Books, Kenya, Tanzania | 1 Comment »

SUNDAY AT THE POOL IN KIGALI

Posted by mukikamu on July 30, 2007

I started reading Gil Courtemanche’s book on the beach of a desert island somewhere in the middle of the Adriatic and I must say it was pain to swallow every word. I put the book away after two days and decided to enjoy the sunny holiday, the sea and the beauties of life instead. I took the book up again when I got home and read it in two days. Sex, AIDS, violence and an incomprehensible genocide to top it all. Please let the future of Rwanda be free of all this and let the hills prosper and the winds blow in PEACE.

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Posted in AFRICA, Books, Rwanda | Leave a Comment »

CHINUA ACHEBE: THINGS FALL APART

Posted by mukikamu on July 30, 2007

Things Fall Apart is said to be ‘the founding father of the African novel’. I wondered why and found that it is an anthropological classic. The everyday lives and believes of Nigerian villages evolve beautifully, coloured with folk tales (birds and the tortoise) and festive songs. Basically all aspects of a traditional life is depicted through the daily events of Okonkwo’s family. I particularly enjoyed the insight on marriage negotiations and the sometimes barbaric believes (twins need to be thrown away and children murdered for the sake of the Earth Goddess). There is a twist to the story that differentiate Achebe’s book from other African novels I’ve read and that is the hands-on description of colonisation through the eyes of the confused natives.  The chaotic circumstances of the clash of civilisations is very though provoking and edifying. I slightly missed the attachment to the characters but the cold-headed description of events has helped the story which towers over the individuals.

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Posted in AFRICA, Books, Nigeria | 1 Comment »

NICK MIDDLETON: GOING TO EXTREMES

Posted by mukikamu on February 28, 2007

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With the quick development of the internet, personal travelogues have spread. Many people nowadays have websites depicting their journeys around the world. It is a good way to post pictures and share experiences, however the quality and knowledgeability of these writings remain very mixed.

I was very excited about Nick Middleton‘s book, as it seemed to have an interesting concept (going to the places on earth with the most extreme climatical features) therefore, appealed to my geographic vein. The author is an Oxford don, so I figured he would supply enough interesting facts to go with the stories. I was deceived. There is no harm in trying to simplify science and present it in an easily digestable way, but I somehow felt that the writer has been sitting in a dark study for years before coming out to the light to make amazingly non-amazing discoveries about the world. His best stories are from Oymyakon in Siberia (the coldest place on earth), where he takes a dip in a lake that is solidly frozen. Probably the disappointment is partly my fault. I should have read the book as a simple travel diary and I would have quite enjoyed it. Plus the translation to Hungarian was dreadfully poor.  I hear Nick has other books and a TV show too. I wonder…

Posted in AFRICA, AMERICA, ASIA, Books, Chile, Etiophia, India, Russia, South America, Travelers | Leave a Comment »