mukikamu

The Armchair Traveler Club

Archive for the ‘AUSTRALIA & THE PACIFIC’ Category

HUGO ADOLF BERNATZIK: SOUTH PACIFIC

Posted by mukikamu on September 24, 2009

We have met him before and now I tumbled upon his book about Papua New Guinea, Bali and the Solomon islands.  My admiration for his clear, matter-of- fact style and readable anthropological analysis has not diminished. He seemed to truly enjoy his trip to these remote places and offers a genuinely enjoyable literary experience. And then there are his amazing pictures that illustrate it all. All from 1932-33.

Additions to the list of groovy names:

Kafagamurirongo – wife of expat German sailor and tribe chief on Owa Raha island

Mamako – village on Owa Riki island

Maneparapara – village

Kafafarisubarisu -ghostgod of Owa Raha island

Kaukaunafugo – good spirits of the forest

Nafumanga -village chief on Owa Riki

Funakuma – village on southeast St. Cristobal island

Kokonga – village on Choiseul island

Bulolo – village on New Guinea

Mamarana -village on Choiseul island

Kufagogo – village on New Guinea where widows carry the skull of their husbands around their necks. All the time.

Agaga – English speaking warrior the author met

Hanubada – village on New Guinea

bernatzik south pacific bernatzik

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Posted in AUSTRALIA & THE PACIFIC, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands | Leave a Comment »

JENS BJERRE: THE LAST CANNIBALS

Posted by mukikamu on December 2, 2008

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I am back on the track of forgotten travel books with Jens Bjerre‘s Last Cannibals. It was an easy and highly enjoyable read.
To give you a taste of it, here is a few things you can learn from the book:

– how native Australians deal with birth control
– why you must never hurry
– how could soldiers drown in the Sahara
– whether there are camels in Australia
– why you should never force people living in houses on water ashore
– how girls in New Guinea solved the etiquette problem of covering their breast before white ladies
– how do cannibals eat a road
– what are the roots of tribal pyromania
– why you should never ever wake a sleeping kukukuku
– what are the rules of dating in the jungle
– which is the most idyllic tropical island of the South Seas
– who was the ‘Flying bishop’

Moreover, here are the new entries in our list of groovy names:
– Hanuabada (village built on water in New Guinea)
– Kukukuku (tribe)
– Kau-kau (potato)
– Momakova (chief of a kukukuku village)
– Jagagaga (chatty old warrior)
– Morombo (tribe)
– Tumbulun (magic flute to scare women)
– Gorogoba (river)
– Morofonu (God)

Posted in ASIA, Australia, AUSTRALIA & THE PACIFIC, Books, Papua New Guinea, travel, travelbook, Travelers | 1 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 »

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 »

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 »

JAMES COOK

Posted by mukikamu on January 25, 2007

One of the greatest explorers of all times, James Cook has put his experiences on his journeys around the world down in a book. We can be thankful because his ship log truly takes us back in time. I am always amazed at the challenges these sailors overcame with the limited technology at hand at the time. The book itself is a bit long and tiring to follow, but is definately one of the essetial reads for vocational travelers.  What we today call exploration is just a show-off compared to the heroism of Cook’s travels. Imagine he travelled the world between 1772 and 1779! It is also thought-provoking to peek-in the daily life of these ships. The tough conditions, imprisonment and army rules would certainly drive modern men mad in no time.

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Posted in ASIA, AUSTRALIA & THE PACIFIC, Books, Hawaii, New Zealand, Tahiti, Travelers | Leave a Comment »