Last night I bought a hand painted, loosely bound, blank journal. I spent my final 200 baht, held in reserve for an iced coffee and green curry chicken; and despite the growls of hunger after said sacrificed dinner, I have no regrets.

Since my belongings were all flooded during a short stay on Gili Trawangan Island in Indonesia, I’ve had to re-learn to write on paper (as smart phones are still not avid swimmers apparently). That’s not to say that I forgot how to write, I think I just became quite easily shaped into an auto-corrected, predicted text world. As I travel, I take photos, jot thoughts in the text pad of my phone and refer back to these when I’m prepared to push keys for my travel blog.

This round is different. And although I’m not necessarily technology free (the laptop survived amazingly), I have been trekking through Southeast Asia with no photos to reference, and no voice-command typing pad. But I’ve been writing. Pushing pen to paper. There’s no backspace, just splotched penmanship with two parallel lines through mistakenly chosen words, and marginal contemplation. I can’t hold down my index finger to insert an image, as the only photos I have are now trapped in my shockingly durable GoPro camera, of which I can’t look at until I’m back in Australia with an external hard drive or Bluetooth capabilities. I feel like Alfred Stieglitz. I have no view-finder, no delete option and no way of knowing what I’ve captured. It’s amazing.

Where I would normally be typing my blog, every three days on my mini-computer of a cell phone, I’ve now been writing unedited thoughts. At least, unedited in the sense that I can’t erase them indefinitely. And rather than locking my elbows and chewing my lip in an attempt to take the perfect photo, I’m just admiring what I see. Then when my initial awe fades, I may sketch it. You know, if I feel like it.

I had this moment when I glanced down at the hand painted journal, which I had just purchased from the proud sister of the artist, where I was suddenly thrilled that my phone had taken a suicidal dive into flood waters. She explained that her sister likes to “paint fiction.” I wasn’t sure if there was something lost in translation, but there was something appropriately ambiguous about that statement. I love to sit down with a story, and read it as if it were an evolving painting. Isn’t that an interesting parallel? –to write paintings in a journal that is bound in painted fiction.

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Unfortunately for all of you, you’ll have to read my accounts of Southeast Asia after I return to technology and can properly sort through the illustrated writings that is my third world travel blog.

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