Elizabeth Briel, Travel Artist

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Sand in my Laptop

coconut hut

My coconut-wood hut on Koh Mak island, Thailand

Some photos from a quiet island.

Deserted beaches during the slow season are a great way to experience the pace of island life. Koh Mak’s flat horizon bristles with palm and rubber trees, and down its sealed roads drive its quirky inhabitants. Some live there all year; most split their lives between Koh Mak and elsewhere. Almost none were born there.

The center of the island is covered in rubber plantations, owned by the “big three” families who were given the island by the King a century ago to keep it from the colonial claws of the French. At night you can sometimes see the latex tappers, who wear mosquito coils on their hats and lights on their foreheads.

coconut hut 2

Work-station window from my hut. I’m still shaking sand from my laptop

I’ve been working in three-hour blocks, and every day is different. Some days I transcribed notes from interviews in Laos and Vietnam; on others I sketched from memory and photo references, or finished the last reference books from White Lotus.

coconut hut 3

The open design let in plenty of breezes – and sand too

Off-season beaches get half the sun and are half the price of the tourist peak from November-March. My $5 bungalow was shaken by plenty of storms during the first week. Rain dripped through the thatched roof. Sand flew through slats of coconut wood into my mosquito net. But I just pulled my blanket tighter and slept through it.

Rainy days are the best kind of weather to get the work done. And that?s why I was here in the first place: for a real working holiday. Now it’s time for the last part of my paper quest: the highlands of northeast and northwest Vietnam

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