A Day in the Life of a Digital Nomad in Bali

April 18, 2014

11:54 am

It’s Tuesday, February 4, and my alarm goes off at 6:15 am. With 6 hours sleep, I’m not happy to be awake. I mentally berate myself: should have gone to bed earlier!

Not wanting to disturb my traveling companion, I slink into the bathroom. I left my computer and headphones there the night before, ready for my 6:30 meeting. I’m in Bali, Indonesia, 13 hours ahead of the East Coast, and trying to sync up with colleagues on both coasts is nearly impossible.

An hour later, I emerge from the windowless bathroom and into the sunlight, ready for work. I munch on a gluten-free protein ball for breakfast – quite a luxury. It’s hard to find gluten-free food in most places I visit, but the yogi-friendly Ubud is an exception.

The hotel staff come in during the morning to clean our room – a whole gaggle of them, sweeping and spraying and saying “sorry” every time the broom brushes against my feet. I use a standing desk – or, rather, a desk with my big suitcase on top of it – and I imagine them puzzling over my strange ways. She’s on vacation, they must think, so why is she working? Why doesn’t she use a chair?

When we booked this hotel, we convinced them to turn my free breakfast into a lunch and serve it at noon. So a waitress, dressed in a green, sarong-like skirt, stops by soon after. The breakfast is a big perk – usually, when traveling, I have to carry around bags of oatmeal or try to scour foreign grocery stores for something resembling American food.

American breakfast

I have an interview this afternoon, so we hop in the shuttle toward downtown and head to the local coworking space. We ask about an air rifle leaning against the wall, and learn that monkeys from the nearby Monkey Forest sometimes climb in the windows. The receptionist serves us some fresh fruit drink, probably orange and papaya. In the hot weather, their air-conditioned conference room is a blessing.

After going out for a cheap dinner – a daily occurrence thanks to our kitchen-less hotel room – we end up at a touristy cafe called Bali Buda. We talk about where we might head next – to Europe? Maybe Toronto? Or stay in Bali for a few more months? Somehow I’ve managed not to think about this question yet, and the uncertainty unsettles me. We talk about cost of living, weather, and walkability – familiar concerns, since we have this conversation every few months.

Life is good, but not unordinary. I’m called a globetrotter and a world traveler, but really I feel like I just change my home every so often. I hardly ever sit by the pool with my laptop – that one time I tried, I squinted in the sunlight, and worried I’d get water all over it. But when I’m not lugging around my 50-pound suitcase or sleeping in airports, there is beauty and change and variety. Instead of the thrum of DC or the quiet of the Vegas desert, in Bali there are frogs and lizards singing me to sleep.

ubud bali

Have questions about being a digital nomad? Want to share your experience? Email me at  kira@tech.co

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Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact kira@tech.co.

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