Azure waters. Verdant cliffs. Rickety (but oh so ‘grammable) boats. Besides being the setting for the Leonardo di Caprio movie The Beach, the Phi Phi islands – a much-vaunted archipelago off Thailand’s Andaman Coast – are also a tourist mecca.
They have long been held up as an example of what happens when money trumps nature (with fingers being pointed everywhere from travellers to Thai authorities), and this paradise on earth offers booze cruises, diving, cave exploring, hiking and sunbathing (among many other activities).
But we’re not here to discuss the ethics of overdevelopment: today’s topic is the pitfalls of being a digital nomad.
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An image posted yesterday on Reddit in the r/digitalnomad group, by user u/HandleZ05, has inadvertently unveiled one of the big challenges to ‘working travel’ that often gets swept under the rug.
Sitting on Koh Phi Phi island, a place notorious for its idyllic environs (as well as overcrowding), the author of the post appears to have carved himself out a quiet moment amid the usual madness (the global near-shutdown of travel probably helped).
“Koh phi phi Thailand. It’s empty, just me and my girl on an empty beach,” the user wrote, above an image of his laptop, a sunlounger, and an empty stretch of sand.
Besides the obvious questions like, “You call your laptop ‘girl’?, and, “Koh Phi Phi totally empty? I can’t imagine how cool that must be!” users were quick to point out the image also shows a side of being a digital nomad the Facebook Marketing Gurus and Instagram Hustle Hashtaggers aren’t so quick to spruik.
“How do you manage screen glare on the beach? Special screen or rely on shade?” one asked. To which another commenter wrote: “You must be new here. They don’t.”
“They also don’t show or discuss how your laptop, that can barely stay cool inside an air-conditioned office/home, overheats and dies when you try to use it for hours in the sun.”
Another apparent digital nomad came to the original poster’s defence: “Solutions exist! Screen hood / anti glare protectors / anti glare sunglasses. I am determined to tan and work.”
The original poster then chimed in, explaining the picture was taken like that simply to show off more of the beach.
“Shade. That tree right next to me did it.”
This comes in a context where the digital nomad trend is growing – but so is disillusionment with it. No longer is it a buzzword, but now just another accepted way of life, with a host of social and existential problems like any other.
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A pinned post at the top of the community is also reflective of what many freelance workers who are keen to globetrot need: a highly useful Digital Nomad Survival Kit.
Oh and – with the work from home revolution in full swing – it appears the digital nomad trend (and all its associated problems) is set to grow. So maybe you won’t be so lonely, in a few years, on that far-flung beach after all.