mukikamu

The Armchair Traveler Club

Archive for the ‘South America’ Category

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 »

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 »

MICHAEL PALIN

Posted by mukikamu on February 5, 2007

michael-palin.jpg High time to pay tribute to my much esteemed Mr. Palin who undoubtedly is the travel hero of our times. I am currently reading his lately published diaries from the Monty Python times and am again amazed by what an enchanting and good-natured human being he is.  He manages to fill travel documentaries with warmth naturally avoiding being commonplace and banal with a healthy sense of self irony. When most travelling showmen are directly rude and definately not funny when talking with locals, Michael Palin manages to highlight the charm and humor in his encounters with foreign cultures. I am not a singular fan I must say. He has a very community enhancing website where praise and admiration is in abundance.  His books, DVDs and audio material is available everywhere (there is quite a Palin merchandise out there), so he is certainly not a hidden gem or the great discovery of this blog, but my efforts to promote travel books would definately be incomplete without him. I can’t really make a pick from his books, the best is to start from Around the world in 80 days and work systematically through to his last appeared work Himalaya. He is currently working on a BBC  series about the “New Europe” which leaves me inpatient to see what he has to say about my homeland, Hungary. 

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PS.: I am also trying to get my hands on a DVD where Palin interviews my other contemporary hero David Attenborough ( I admire him so much that I should have written his name fully with capital letters :-)), so stay tuned for an even more subjective praise for British entertainers soon. (My family is unanimous in believing that I am obsessed with British gentlemen and BBC documentaries. Just that you know.)

Posted in AFRICA, Antarctica, ASIA, AUSTRALIA & THE PACIFIC, Books, EUROPE, North America, South America, Travelers | 1 Comment »

ERNESTO GUEVARA: THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES

Posted by mukikamu on January 22, 2007

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After the film came out I read the book to see how great material Che Guevara’s diary really is. I found it a bit hard to read somehow but finished it nevertheless. Unfortunately it is rare that I come across travel reading from Latin America. It is such an amazing continent with many secrets. (I must look it up! )

The Motorcycle Diaries lacked a touch of colourfullness for me, but I guess the whole point is just how underdevelopped these parts were at the time.  It is also truly interesting to read the thoughts of a young man who has no idea about the course his life takes later on.

Posted in Argentina, Bolivia, Books, Brazil, Chile, Peru, South America | Leave a Comment »

A SENSE OF THE WORLD

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 »