the writer is a lonely hunter

writing by Gail Aldwin and other authors

Travels without my Laptop

I’m recently back from a trip to Cambodia where I met my Australian friend and we visited the amazing temples at Angkor Wat. After much consideration, I decided to make the journey without my laptop. The timing was good. I’d sent off my latest manuscript to beta readers at the end of December with the expectation I’d hear back from them after a month. The deadline for submitting my third novel The Secret Life of Carolyn Russell is on 1 February, and I figured I’d have enough time for a final read-though on return from Cambodia. Yet it was with some trepidation that I set off without my trusty laptop.

There was lots to distract me during the fortnight I was away. We stopped in Phnom Penh for four nights and spent many hours walking around the city. It’s much less frenetic than Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam and I could actually cross the road unaided. (I once had to cling to the backpack of a Vietnamese schoolboy to safely cross a busy junction.) Phnom Penh hardly feels like a capital although there is a large business area. We stuck to the streets lined with colonial buildings which were a short distance from our hotel situated near to the royal palace.

One day we went to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. Visiting the S-21 interrogation and detention centre was a sobering experience. Housed in a former school and it was incongruous enjoying shade in the playground offered by frangipani trees knowing the atrocities that went on in the classrooms. Upon confession, victims of torture where then transferred to be murdered at the nearby killing fields of the Khmer Rouge regime. It seemed disrespectful to take photos but you can learn more about the museum here.

I must admit to having itchy fingers for the first few days of my trip but used the notes on my mobile to jot down any important things that came to mind. The next stop on our journey was in Battambang where we stayed at a delightful resort hotel with a pool. Breakfast and dinner were served beside a lake and excursions included an outing on bicycles and a trip into the countryside on a bamboo railway. Getting off the railway line quickly became a necessity when the scheduled train from Phnom Penh thundered through.

By the time we reached Siem Reap, I wondered why I’d hesitated to travel without my laptop. There was far too much to absorb during visits to the temples to be bothered with writing anything down.

The vast scale of Angkor Wat means it could take days to see all the fine details. I just had a glimpse of its magic then moved on to other temples, completely different from the first.

I must admit during the ten-hour layover at Singapore, I could’ve done with my laptop for company. Instead, I spent time wandering the complex and enjoyed the butterfly garden that features as part of Changi airport’s attractions.

Now that I’m back at home and recovered from jet lag, the final check of the manuscript for submission is calling me.

Have you ever travelled without a laptop? How did you find the experience?

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