mukikamu

The Armchair Traveler Club

Archive for the ‘Russia’ Category

MICHAEL PALIN: NEW EUROPE

Posted by mukikamu on June 3, 2008

A book accompanying the TV series always fails to offer a sense of discovery, yet, for devoted followers like me, in Palin’s case, is a blissful sin of marketing. We all lit up when a hard copy of New Europe with Palin’s portrait on the cover landed as a present in our living room. Especially, as this time, he travels through my home region, Central and Eastern Europe.

 

I have always believed that Michael Palin must be one of the nicest people on Earth. He comes in second to David Attenborough in terms of personal heroes because he stays humble and light-hearted even in less comfortable situations. I grew up watching him show me the world, which clearly isn’t as rosy as in his documentaries, yet I am generally grateful he resists being diminutive. I have read all his books, I have seen all his travel programmes. I am definitely what you call a fan.

 

 

This historic admiration puts me in an awkward situation when trying to review his new book, because I could certainly criticize him for many things. The question is whether I want to. Someone who has given, and continues to give you joy should never be criticized. Still, I feel blind fanatism on the long run would lead to untruthful consequences, so it is with a heavy heart when I say the series have seem to have become a routine and Palin’s crew rushes through these European countries. For me, they lacked interesting, not-stereotype-like material and fail to break through the “grey” image of post-communist countries. I admit, the sights here are not always as exotic and as spectacular as elsewhere. The thrill lies more in the history of the region, but looking to the past, showing signs of the bloodshed these nations strive to put behind, is an easy way to get away with the show. I know it’s hard to go around the past, but naturally it hurts my sense of PR when the potential and interestingness of Central and Eastern Europe stays in the background.

Maybe I just have more hands-on experience with this part of the world, maybe I was over-enthusiastic. I don’t know. To top it all, being a native, I am oversensitive of course. I know I am. But you should never wait for an outsider to tell you new things about you homeland either.

 

Despite all the above, I am not the type who has a heart to take an idol to pieces. I certainly wish Michael Palin would have enjoyed his trip more, but surprisingly, he is no less likeable in my eyes. Do you happen to know when he is setting off again? 

 

 

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Posted in Albania, Books, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, EUROPE, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Travelers, Turkey, Ukraine | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

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!

jappan.jpgtamas_regi2.jpg salmon_382168.jpgatonment.jpg

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

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 »

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 »