All Man is an Island

It is terrifying not bringing your laptop with you on a holiday. Most luggage companies know this, they have added room for your laptop and computer accessories to their new products. You would spend hours debating with yourself whether you should stack your laptop in your pack or just leave it at home.
Having technology at hand you can always connect and keep up with your work at any moment, an iPad or a MacBook Air could come in handy when you traveling. With these light electronic devices, you’re no longer have to think about taking off your windbreaker to make room for a computer in your suitcase.
An ideal holiday has changed—for the middle class—from a time when it’s all about staying at a resort on a private island of the Gulf of Thailand with no connection on the phone to a working holiday when you find yourself asking for the wifi password from a hotel clerk. A MacBook isn’t here in your pack for working purpose. It’s the sense of responsibility in our modern culture that’s why the computer is following you.
One reads books or online articles about Thailand and get the idea of backpacking around the country. For example, Alex Garland’s The Beach that published in 1996 influenced many young talents to switch off their work mode to trot and search for the solitary hippified colonial on the beach where people spend their days lounging around, smoking weed, tend their own gardens and forget about the outside world.
It’s been a satisfyingly good decade for those who seeks local experience and being surrounded by like-minded idly people. Since the book published and the movie version starring Leonardo DiCaprio that followed, there’re many artist communities, most of them founded by a group of westerners, in remote places in the mountain like Pai and Mae Sariang or in the island like Koh Phangan.
The world didn’t connected then. Airbnb didn’t exist yet but the concept of staying in a commune or a local’s house was always there before it was noticed and taken and monetized by a tech entrepreneur. It was the early days for social networks and smart phones thus there were no heavy internet dependent such as the world we’re living today. The hippie didn’t see it coming. They were the first to refuse to sign up for a Facebook account and linger on their Yahoo and Hotmail and were late to join when all of these became inevitable like owning a television.
I went to Koh Lanta recently without my laptop and I freaked out a bit because I didn’t have anything to read, either, except a two-day-old Bangkok Post newspaper I stole from the flight from Chiang Mai. There’s an article headlined “I’m Working from Boat Today.” I looked at the bird eye view photo of a catamaran sailing on the ocean and read story written by my former colleague about the co-working space on the island called KoHub. I folded the newspaper and put it in my backpack with the affirmative thought that I found where the hippie go.
Koh Lanta separates by two islands called Lanta Noi (fifteen minutes ferry ride from the mainland) and Lanta Yai, with even shorter time spend on the ferry in order to reach the island, they are building a bridge connecting the two islands together.
‘They’ve been building them for three years now,’ said James Abbott the co-founder of KoHub, a co-working place on Koh Lanta, the Englishman in his thirties who lives on the island for seven years and founded the co-working space in this almost isolated paradise. It’s the island’s low-season, everything from beach chairs to reggae bars are crawling back to their shells waiting for the finishing of the new bridge and the heat of March to come and everything will sprung back to life.
Situated on Phra-Ae beach, KoHub serves as the working space with hi-speed internet and training sessions, technically and spiritually, at the end of the day for those who has an opportunity to work remotely.
‘Nowadays, there are lots of companies that based like they have no based. You have the freedom to be where you want to be but you have to get the work done.’ James told me. ‘It gives you the opportunity to choose between sitting at your desk with the guarantee of work and the pension or you can take a chance and find the freedom to earn more money and find more works being a freelance.’
In the old times, it’s either freedom or security, you have to choose the one or the other. As the world is getting more and more connected and it’s easy to find programming job or a job that doesn’t require permanent location makes it easier for lots of people to acquire a lifestyle with both freedom and security.
But what if the world didn’t connected? What would happened to the tech-nomad is either you’ll find them in the office or they would simply opted for the nomadic lifestyle and live in a commune hoping no one can find them (like in The Beach.) The internet makes it easier for us to take responsibility and the tech companies are providing you with lighter and powerful mobile devices to make sure you can carry your work with you wherever you go.
James has found passion in finding work-life balance. ‘I want my freedom. I want the freedom to earn money and travel,’ he said. He began by becoming a diving instructor, working at Starbucks, and bought a boat that he used to sail on it and figured out a way to be able to work while he’s sailing. His incessant ability to turn a vacationing place into a working space from KoHub to CoBoat: a co-working space project on a catamaran that is set to sail around the world in November 2015, reassures that the concept of hitting the road is changing.
Many young talents who hit the road nowadays are culturally transformed into tech savvy with free spirit mind. The modern hippies are not passing joint but, rather, the knowledge and freelance gigs. They’re currently getting high on programming and receive a paycheck by the end of the day while most of us are toiling in a soulless office.
At night, having no computer and my bungalow was too close to the beach but too far from the internet router, I switched off my phone and decided to go for a walk on the beach. There were signs of pubs and bars but nothing was open except a reggae bar near my resort. There was no customer but I didn’t go out looking for company so I sat and ordered a Singha. The quietness, except from Bob Marley’s songs that were quietly playing on the background, was unbearable. I thought about my laptop that I left in my apartment in Bangkok. I didn’t bring it with me in hope that it could ease my stress not working on a holiday but in the end I was sitting by myself, mentally writing blog posts in my head and feeling even more stress out.
Growing up, I’m slowly came to accept that my life is non-stop. Keeping up with deadlines is one thing and trying to stay healthy while maintaining good relationship with friends and family is the other. Technology makes the communication faster than ever that in turn it makes our lives even busier. If I can’t deny the inevitable, then I better live with it. So, I guess, there’ll always be a room for my laptop on my next holiday.
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KoHub located on Koh Lanta Yai, Krabi, Thailand
For more information about KoHub and CoBoat visit kohub.org
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