mukikamu

The Armchair Traveler Club

Archive for the ‘AMERICA’ Category

JACK KEROUAC: ON THE ROAD

Posted by mukikamu on August 11, 2008

Reading Kerouac’s On the road feels more than a duty and I was full with curiosity and enthusiasm, but I couldn’t get close to the book somehow. Maybe my anticipation was too great or my understanding of the truly American feeling of faithlessness is insufficient, probably both, but I really did struggle and felt an awful shame of doing so. It turned out that this great classic is one of the very few mandatory reads I didn’t enjoy. I consulted friends and to my surprise they confessed similar feelings. Are we too young to understand the revolutionary ideas? Have we read too many similar books?  Do we take our freedom of movement too naturally? I wonder.

   

Posted in AMERICA, North America | Leave a Comment »

JON KRAKAUER: INTO THE WILD

Posted by mukikamu on April 24, 2008

   

Now that the movie came out, reading Krakauer‘s book was inevitable to find out what the big deal about Christopher McCandless’ story is. Unfortunately I couldn’t find out. The whole media frenzy seemed to kill the essential about the adventure and about the personalness of his choice. I am sure our hero would clearly despise people trying to make a saint out of him. Plus, the book was a dissapointment. Maybe if I would have started the book thinking, that I was going to read a long National Geographic (in this case Outdoor) article, I wouldn’t have felt so cheated. Not that the writer is bad. Not that I hate biased biographies, on the contrary. However the only episode I liked was the passage about the author himself concurring an Alaskan mountain. The episode when the “followers” are depicting Chris’ trailer, is directly laughable. His machete. The belt that kept his trousers up. Really. Life of Brian. I feel sorry and can see the tragedy, but I admire those more who have actually done something astonishing (climbed a mountain or sailed the oceans) and survived.

 

Posted in Alaska, AMERICA, Books, North America, Travelers | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

DANIEL KEHLMANN: MEASURING THE WORLD

Posted by mukikamu on March 18, 2008

The reason why Daniel Kehlmann‘s novel is listed on MUKIKAMU is because it is all about exploration. In every sense. It underlies the very essential of this blog, namely that you can travel and make discoveries even if you don’t leave your room. Naturally, the book is about so much more. Refreshing in every idea it presents, the characters (famous scientists Gauss and Humboldt) are charmingly passionate geniuses and the plots are really very funny. Humboldt travels to the New World to diligently measure everything and Gauss explores the wonders of the world in his mind. There are many surprises in store. The author manages to bring the otherwise blurry and dull science world of the middle-ages to life and hints the German spirit with Latin American atmosphere. The more I think about it, the more the whole build-up of the book strikes me. The execution of the ending is structurally and literally thrilling as well as thought-provoking. A delightfully enjoyable read. No wonder this is the book that tops best seller lists in Germany.

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Posted in Books, Germany, South America | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

GRAHAM GREENE: TRAVELS WITH MY AUNT

Posted by mukikamu on December 20, 2007

I re-read Travels With My Aunt. Such a crazy piece, really it is. It reminded me of the books that started me on armchair traveling long long years ago. Hemingway‘s The Sun Also Rises and Twain’s Roughin’ It also promote idle vagabonding and mention no obstacles whatsoever. I was naturally instantly hooked on the high-life, luxurious hotels and country motoring. Seas of champagne.

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Greene is one of my favourite writers anyway.  He is so basic, it feels awkward to give an introduction. He has written many travel related books (Journey without maps, Lawless road, etc…) and most of his novels are also set in faraway lands. If you care for readable novels with a touch of wanderlust any of his books is a treat. I have read Our Man in Havana, The Honorary Consul, The Quiet American, The End of the Affair, The Human Factor and The Heart of the Matter before, but as far as I am concerned, all can be re-read anytime. Greene’s novels and short stories truly take you around the world. From Saigon to Havana. 

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Posted in Argentina, Books, England, France, Italy, Paraguay, Turkey | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

PAUL THEROUX: HAPPY ISLES OF OCEANIA

Posted by mukikamu on December 6, 2007

Here I am, stepping into something huge again. Paul Theroux is one of the most popular travel writers of our times and I am fully aware that it will take me years to eat myself through his literature. He has several essential travel volumes to choose from and hereby I officially promise to report on The Great Railway Bazaar and The Old Patagonian Express A.S.A.P..

The volume I read this time was The Happy Isles of Oceania and to be perfectly honest, after the poetic and respectful admiration towards locals of Thesiger, the superior realism of Theroux came as a bucket of icy water to my face. While Thesiger emphasizes his travels’ substantiality and nobleness, Theroux is shamelessly critical. He calls himself a ‘natural skeptic’ but sometimes I felt he was directly rude. He is not the type to rave about his destinations and I definitely wasn’t encouraged to start planning a trip right away. After getting over this initial culture shock however, I found his book informative, drawing an up-to-date picture of the far-away and exotic islands I just dream about. It is a very personal book too, written when times were tough, which explains his bitterness of style, but I am still flabbergasted how miserably unhappy you can be in paradise. The most enjoyable passages for me were the ones where he is quietly paddling his collapsible kayak alone and his rage and anger gives way to peace in his heart. Envy filled my heart.

I really must read another book of his to get a real picture. However spoilt, ungrateful, unsatisfied and grumpy he seems, he is a brilliant observer and a great traveler.

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Posted in Australia, AUSTRALIA & THE PACIFIC, Books, Cook Islands, Easter Island, Fiji islands, Hawaii, Marquesas, New Zealand, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tahiti, Tonga, Travelers, Trobriands, Vanatu, Vava'u | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

AKU-AKU

Posted by mukikamu on August 30, 2007

If you ever wondered what could possibly be exciting at an excavation, please read Thor Heyerdahl’s thrilling book about the secrets of Easter Island. You will never think digging earth is dull ever again. He is irresistably readable and brings out your curious and enthusiastic inner child. His storytelling is so exciting, you hardly believe it’s non-fiction. You are captivated and truly feel that you yourself are pushing through the impossibly narrow underground cave passages and negotiating with the maddeningly superstitious natives. It’s a long book and I haven’t even finished it yet, still, yes, this is a raving review. 

EASTER ISLAND

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Posted in Books, Chile, Easter Island, South America | 1 Comment »

THOR HEYERDAHL: KON TIKI

Posted by mukikamu on August 6, 2007

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Is there a greater classic among adventure books than the reckless Thor Heyerdahl’s story about a 104 day long raft ride through the Pacific in 1947? It is just as crazy as it is heroic and makes your jaw drop everytime. The 6 men fighting the elements on a hand-made balsa wood vesel are at the mercy of the acient Gods of South America and the Pacific. Encounters with wonderful Verne-like creatures of the sea bring the Pacific to life. Squids and giant sharks are right under your feet, fish and octopus fly into your face daily. You just have to put your toothbrush in the water and a fish bites on it vehemently. Myths accompany the Scandinavian crew all the way, it’s an uplifting tale of a pursuit of dreams. Mandatory for armchair explorers. I am prepared to fight everyone who says it’s a children’s book.

MUSEUM WEBSITE

OUR HERO THOR HEYERDAHL

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Posted in AUSTRALIA & THE PACIFIC, Books, Easter Island, Ecuador, Marquesas, Peru, South America, Tahiti, Travelers | 3 Comments »

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 »

LONG WAY ROUND

Posted by mukikamu on February 28, 2007

Ewan and Charley are good friends and fun-loving lads. They managed to execute a dream that many have on dull office days, namely to get away for weeks, get on a motorbike and let the hair blow in the wind. Motoring around the world eastwards from London, through Siberia and North America sounds romantic and adventurous indeed, but can turn out to be challenging for idealists. In fact you realize how luxuriously lazy your life is, when you decide to give it up and fight the elements and the tarnac lacking roads of Siberia. As a bonus, you might get to be life-long enemies with your best friend. But of course, you asked for it.

First of all, I hate motorbikes. If their is something that drives me mad is the loud roar of an engine and I can’t imagine anything more disturbing in nature than this devilish machine. Secondly, I haven’t seen the TV series that documents the trip, however I read the travelogue and am sure that the series must be better. Little is written about the places our heros press through; the focus is more on the adventure, the personal experiences and the spirit of independent travel. Part of the attraction naturally is Ewan McGregor, who is a likeable chap and an undeniable celebrity. In this unique case therefore, I suggest that pictures speak better than words.

Oh, yes and they are setting off again in 2007. This time to Africa. Watch these spaces (and their website) …

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Posted in ASIA, Books, England, EUROPE, Mongolia, North America, Russia, Slovakia, Travelers, Ukraine | Leave a Comment »

DERVLA MURPHY

Posted by mukikamu on February 9, 2007

So increadibly little is available about Irish Dervla Murphy who is one of the humblest traveler of the XXth Century. I have read her book about Ethiopia (In Ethiopia With a Mule) and was thrilled by her monk like solitude and persistance. She travelled the world in the ’60s all by herself, stubbornly fighting the elements and going to the edge of her strenght many times when faced with extreme climatical challenges. As far as I know other travel diaries are available from her with exotic destinations. Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bicycle, Eight Feet in the Andes and Muddling through in Madagascar just to name a few. Check them all out here. She was an especially hard lady I would care to know more about. Her most biographical work (Through Siberia by Accident) should give interesting clues about her motives and nature. Read in One foot in Laos here!

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Posted in AFRICA, ASIA, Books, Etiophia, India, Laos, Madagascar, Nepal, Peru, Russia, South America, Tibet, Travelers | 2 Comments »