The 24th December 2018 marked my first expedition to Chiang Mai, Thailand. 432 years after Ralph Fitch, the first recorded Englishman to step foot into Chiang Mai back in 1586

For those unfamiliar with the significance of this journey; Chiang Mai is universally acknowledged to be one of a handful of destinations in the world which is regularly worshiped by the Digital Nomad community.

The former capital of the kingdom of Lan Na has evolved into an ambitious innovation-driven "smart city" to cater towards the arrival of modern hipsters, digital nomadic entrepreneurs and the exceptional and unequivocal rise of the demographic development within the ASEAN region.

No longer are western metropolises considered to be 'power houses of innovation'; instead, they're financially uninhabitable for a large portion of society and  -  as I've discovered upon my extensive travels across Asia  -  frequently considered as the dictionary definition of complacency, arrogated by sanctimonious characters who are addicts of conformity.

"Hither to Lamahey (Chiang Mai) come many merchants out of china, and bring great store of muske, golde, silver, and many other things" - Fitch, 1586

From Fitch's first account, not much has really changed, except, you'll be more likely to observe cryptocurrency and blockchain merchants gathered in co-working spaces, or casually dwelling inside one of the many remarkable independent coffee shops scattered across the city

🇹🇭 Chiang Mai

Gate keepers of the region are steadily working towards solidifying themselves as 'the' nomad mecca of choice. Their smart city initiative echos a digital strategy which lead to Estonia's nomad visa. Inevitably, nomad visa's will attract more talent, more innovation and more investment throughout the region.

There's no denying, with the advent of near-instant global communication, transportation and media; young people everywhere are acknowledging viable alternatives to the office cubical.

I often wonder upon trips back to Europe, if I’m living in a Nomad bubble or if I’m and early adopter of the efflorescence of nomadic entrepreneurs (?)

The truth is, I can no longer look favourably at home ownership via mortgages, vehicle ownership via financing or anything else which degrades the very notion of freedom.

Today we have apps like Monzo, Revolut and Freetrade. You can build capital, own assets and invest globally using WiFi on a flight situated 30,000 feet above the surface of the earth.

On a Monday morning you can quite literally purchase shares (for free) using your thumbprint via Freetrade, board a flight at London Heathrow and wake up in Singapore 13 hours later to see your gains.

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A stark contrast to the lives of our ancestors. A time when news and goods only travelled as fast as the sailing vessels of the day. Often taking five to six weeks to commute from Venice to Constantinople, or four weeks from Venice to London. -Making Ralph Fitch's expeditions even harder to fathom.

Today’s world is rapidly changing.

I can no longer walk onto a scheduled flight from Jakarta to Penang without a subsequent nod from a fellow passenger; acknowledging the trademark stereotypical symbols of the nomadic entrepreneur:

  • Laptop with Slack open
  • Sketchbook
  • Airpods
  • “Hello! Can you hear me!?” being shouted in the airport lounge, conversing with clients over a call - utilising the dodgy airport WiFi.

The technology to enable remote work has been around for a little while now. At the rate of current technological advancement, it's simply a matter of time before things start to get really interesting. Steadily but surly, more and more people are beginning to board the trend of digital nomadism. I struggle to believe this trend will ever decline, in fact, quite the opposite.


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