Many people ask me what a typical day looks like. The funny thing is: there is no such thing as ‘a typical day’ when you live a life like a free spirit. Every day is different. Nothing ever repeats or becomes routine. Locations change, I meet different people, I follow my mood and energy concerning work, my food changes from day to day. If I like something: I repeat it. If I don’t like something, I change it. But just to give you an idea, I’ll share what today looked like for me. Normally I wake up when I am done sleeping, generally somewhere between 8 and 9 AM. Today I had to set an early alarm, because together with two other digital nomads, we were going to do a ‘visa run’ to the immigration office to extend our visa. My breakfast-on-the-go was a coconut pudding that I had bought in the Mall the other day, with some nuts I keep in my room for these kind of ‘emergencies’… Uber just started in Chiang Mai yesterday, so of course I was happy to use this service instead of a taxi (no price negotiations, not having to explain where to go, no money issue after arrival and friendly drivers). The driver told us that this was only his second trip. His car looked brand new and he was very happy, even though the low rates were not so good for him. “But very good for you!” he kept emphasizing with a big smile. The immigration office proved to be one big lesson in entrepreneurship. I took pictures and wrote a Facebook post while I was waiting to share the inspiration I found there:
“I am amazed at how efficient and ‘modern’ this process is. On arrival (early in the morning), I found long lines of people waiting in front of the various signs that were put up, even before the offices opened. Immigration forms were handed out to those waiting (there were small chairs on which you could write or sit) and friendly ladies checked if you were in the correct line. Of course you need copies of your passport and a passport photo shot. Seizing this opportunity, local entrepreneurs set up a copy/photo shop just where the line starts… For a few cents everything is arranged: very efficient. Forgot your pen to fill in the forms? They sell pens for 10 baht (€0.25). You need to get to the immigration office really early and might not have had breakfast. Or maybe you get hungry during the wait. That’s why the waiting area is lined by coffee and food stalls. They allow you to take your plastic plate into the waiting area, so you can combine eating and waiting. Shortly after you hand in your forms, your name is called (in a horrible accent that makes it almost impossible to detect your name…). To my surprise they just wanted to take a picture of me holding all my forms, the money I paid and the number assigned to my ‘case’. A modern and efficient way of documenting that I was actually present for the visa extension request. A true digital nomad of course uses the remaining waiting time to get some work done (in my case write this post to share this inspiring experience). And by the time I got to this sentence, my visa extension was ready and I’m all set to go. Go Thailand!
Funny detail: you had to fill in the address of the place you’re staying in Thailand. Instead of my apartment address, I accidentally copied the address of the immigration office on the form. Nobody noticed! ???? So now I am officially registered at the immigration offices… “
On the way back the Uber driver had difficulty finding our pick up spot, so we had to run after the car as it was almost giving up and driving away. This driver did not speak English and did not seem to be able to drive and navigate at the same time. An interesting ride ‘home’. We arrived close to our apartment complex, but on the other side of the highway. The driver would have to turn around to drop us off where we requested. But Thai traffic is so crazy: it might take a while before he would be able to make the U-turn. So on the spot, we decided to get out right then and there. We jumped out in the middle of traffic and crossed the highway to get to the mall that is next to our apartment complex. I wanted to get some work done in my air-conditioned room, but knew I would be hungry in a short while, so decided to buy some lunch to take away. The local food court in the mall has so much choice. I went to my favorite vegetarian place and ordered a meal of brown rice and three different kind of vegetable dishes. I paid €1,25… On my walk ‘home’ I was really craving a hot green tea (weird habit of mine: no matter the temperature, I always drink hot tea), so I stopped at some Chinese shop to get a tea. They only sold weird, colored, chemical ice-teas. But the lady explained that a simple, non-sweetened hot green tea was also possible. Then she scooped a weird paste out of a container, mixed it with hot water, added something unidentifiable and then presented me with the ‘tea’… I walked home and am now enjoying the surprisingly ‘normal’ tea and the food in my room. The airco is just getting the room to an acceptable temperature after the outside heat and humidity. I’ll work on my website now, with the tips I got from other entrepreneurs yesterday. Turns out I am really good at social media and have a very local following, but I hardly have any ‘organic traffic’ to my website, which means that I have to work on SEO and Google searches. I prefer creating content and sharing my learnings instead of technical stuff, so I am instructing one of my assistants in Eastern Europe to take this up. I am also booking a ticket to Koh Pangang, the tropical island in the south of Thailand where I want to spend next month. After 5 weeks in the city I am craving the sea, the beach, nature and quietness. I found a tantra yoga course on the island which I am planning to take. This tantra workshop has nothing to do with sex, by the way; it is more about exploring your feminine and masculine energies. I was looking into a place to stay and found many very cheap, basic rooms for less than €12,50 per night. But I also stumbled upon a really attractive ‘boutique’ resort for about €30 a night. As a backpacker, many years ago, I would always go for the cheaper option. Now I am really attracted to the luxury, style and energy of the ‘expensive’ rooms, so I’ll probably go for this very beautiful mini-resort on the beach. I will spend a month there doing my swimming laps in the sea each day, taking yoga classes and working a few hours a day. This afternoon I’ll take a break to do my laps in the pool on the resort where I am staying. I’ll probably meet some of the other participants of ‘The Entrepreneur House’ there (I am an advisor, and we are a total of 20 digital nomads living and working together for a month) to share some tips and inspiration. After that I’ll either work some more or take a nap if I feel tired. On days like this I work 1 or 2, sometimes 3 blocks of 1,5 hours. Very intense, focused working, in which I get a lot done. I found out this works best for me. I used to work without breaks and it took it’s toll on me, especially after the car accident 3 years ago which resulted in a whiplash. Ever since I am trying to be more conscious of the way I use my limited brainpower and energy. At 6.30 we will all meet to go to a Thai BBQ place for dinner. This is supposed to be something special. At 8 I’ll take a ‘tuk-tuk’ to the old town, for a private tango class. I prefer a tuk-tuk for this ride, because you really feel a part of the city: smells (both food and traffic smells) pass you by, you feel the wind in your face: it’s an exciting ride. The Turkish teacher is one of the very few ‘tangueros’ in Chiang Mai. I always bring my tango shoes on trips and like to find the local tango-scene to dance, learn and meet tango-minded people, both locals and foreigners alike. After the class I will probably be tired and will go back to my room. I HAVE to finish this Netflix series that I just started and became addicted to, haha! Or I’ll pass by my favorite massage place, where I can get an hour long massage for €6.50 and then go straight to sleep. But now I have to get back to work, because yesterday we spent with a group or ‘six-figure’ entrepreneurs at a very exclusive, beautiful resort in the mountains and I did not get any work done. And tomorrow we are going on a nature trip, so that won’t be a productive working day either. However, these days score high on fun, and being around like-minded people, inspiration and tips ‘happen’ even (or maybe especially) when you’re not technically ‘working’…. Are you interested in becoming a digital nomad? Check out my book: Digital Nomads, how to live, work & play around the world or the Dutch version: Handboek voor wereldburgers.