Two months ago I had a very limited choice of writing spots. They consisted of a cramped bedroom surrounded by bicycles and scattered clothes, a local café where I sensed the owner resented me buying one cup of tea and staying for three hours, and my local park which was rarely dry enough to visit and always less comfortable than I remembered when it was.
Since beginning travelling I’ve found a few dreamy locations to write in which have changed everything! Each little magical place has the power to fire up my imagination or draw me out of those narrative vortexes that I can get stuck in. It gives me ideas just finding my way there, let alone getting acquainted with an amazing new spot.
Granted, I can’t pop to places like these on my way home from work (especially with them being dotted around Asia) but it has inspired me to explore my hometown a bit more. I find it’s either a five minute walk to my local café and three hours of twiddling my thumbs or two hours of searching and half an hour of manic, wonderful scribbling. The right place can be the difference between one chapter or no chapter.
Here’s a few of my favourite discoveries:
Candid Café – London, UK
This is my favourite spot at home, it’s on the top floor of a misleading, old building in Islington. You make your way up the creaky, windy stairs to find one huge table in the middle surrounded by mismatched chairs and some unusual paintings to get your imagination going. Plus, great cheesecake.
Highland Coffee – Hanoi, Vietnam
This has a great view over a manic city, it’s people watching galore! Just find the big, dangerous round-about, there’ll probably be a balloon seller walking into movng traffic without looking, and then look up. There’s various cafes with balconies surrounding the round-about but I liked Highland Coffee met.
Cat Ba Island – Vietnam
Where better to write than in a little hut on a secluded beach!? There’s table tennis and pool for when you need a break but otherwise there’s no distractions so you’ve got no excuse not to sit down and start typing.
Pai Treehouse Resort – Pai, Thailand
This is every kid’s dream, a tree house without grown-ups! (Even if we’re technically the grown-ups now… Whatever!) Cue Dennis the Menace plotting and The Magic Faraway Tree day-dreams.
Books and Tea – Luang Prabang, Laos
This place has a little book shop/swap on the ground floor where you can dream of your own book being on one of the shelves and the second floor is just covered in comfy cushions where you can sprawl and scribble. They also play films in the evening so you’ve got something to look forward to once you’ve hit your writing goals.
I found most of these outside riverside huts in small towns and villages. Part of the appeal of the hammock is that you immediately feel that you’re in some kind of paradise wherever you are anyway. The other positive factor is that it’s harder to get up and tHereford harder to stop writing!
Crazy House – Dalat, Vietnam
This is a building straight out of Disney, everything is surrounded by winding plants and mysterious tunnels. I didn’t actually get any writing done here, I just scrambled and climbed over the whole building getting some ideas for story locations. However, there is a little café here as well as hotel rooms which are all vivid and exciting. One had a fireplace in the shape of a huge egg and a large, fictional bird sat on top of it. It’s amazing!
Joma – Hanoi, Vietnam / Luang Prabang, Laos
I guess this is kind of like the Asian Starbucks. Yes, I know, I should have been exploring all the quirky, cultural places with character and history. Buuuut, sometimes you just need WiFi and a plug! It’s nice and cool and there’s seems to be lots of other people tapping away at their novels.
Myanmar Backpacker – Yangon, Myanmar
This is a hostel made up of little ‘pods’ for beds. It’s hit and miss depending on how chlostrophobic you are. Personally I loved this place because it felt like I was in a little den and I could surround myself with all my stuff (the more stationary I can surround myself with the better). However, if you’re over six foot or don’t like small spaces then this one might not be great for you!