I’m currently typing this blog post from Yaks Hostel in Bangkok, Thailand. I got an excellent deal on Agoda of only $4 per night for a private dorm since I’m a VIP member rewarding frequent quality travelers with extra perks. I’ve been in Bangkok for about 5 days during the Coronavirus outbreak. Most people are staying at home in self-quarantine and practicing social distancing to avoid spreading the virus. Tourism is way down so most of the hotels/hostels are relatively empty and you can get some really good deals on airfare and accomodation. Every clouds has its silver lining. I’ve decided to continue my travels in Southeast Asia as a full-time digital nomad and photographer during the Coronavirus outbreak. However, I’ve decided to limit my travel and extend my visa in Thailand to practice advised safety measures for an extended period of time. For a rational and unapologetic explanation of why I’m continuing living my life in the face of paranoid fear, you can read my previous blog post here.
I recently booked a one-way ticket back to Bali, Indonesia; the destination where this epic adventure of over 4 months first began in November 2019. You can read the blog post I’m Officially Going to Bali Indonesia. However, after quite a bit of deliberation, I decided to cancel my flight to Bali on March 20, 2020 flying Air Asia due to travel restrictions. A friend who’s lived in Bali for the past 4 years was grounded at the Denpasar Airport for many hours and strongly urged me to reconsider my travel plans. The government instituted a temporary suspension on the Visa on Arrival (VOA) for a month or longer for foreign visitors. You can normally buy one for $37 upon arrival at Denpasar and hire a visa agent (or do it yourself) to extend your visa for up to 3 months at a time. It was going to be very challenging to get past immigration without a health certification. After careful reasoning I determined that the calculated risks are not worth the potential rewards and that’s why I’ve decided to suspend my travel outside Thailand. At this time, I have no intentions of returning to the United States for a multitude of reasons that I will not elaborate to avoid getting distracted from the objective of this blog post.
It’s a tough time for travelers to figure out, which restrictions and travel bans have been decided. Almost daily, new decisions are made while information is not always distributed efficiently and clearly enough. So far, the number of corona patients is still low in Indonesia, particularly in relation to the total population. More cases will definitely be reported and the crisis is not over; everyday new cases are being reported.
Travelers and citizens from following countries or regions have been banned from entering Bali and Indonesia.
- China (total shutdown since Feb 5th)
- Iran: Tehran, Qom and Gilan
- Italy: Lombardi, Venetto, Emilia-Romagna, Marche and Piedmont
- South Korea: Daegu and Gyeongsangbuk-do
If you are coming from any of these countries that have restricted areas, you will need a health certificate if you wish to come to Indonesia. Please get in touch with the Indonesian Embassy in your country to get the details about this requirement.
If you are making a trip to Bali between now and late April, I strongly encourage you to reconsider your decision due to travel restrictions. There’s a very real possibility you could be stranded on this paradise island and required to pay penalty overstay fees of 1,000,000 Rupiahs (or roughly $65) per day. That’s just fine if you have money to burn, but it adds up really fast for the average broke backpacker.
Here’s a list of stipulations during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- The government continues to pay close attention to reports from WHO regarding the development of the spread of COVID-19.
- Bearing in mind that more and more countries have been infected with COVID-19, the Government strongly urges Indonesian citizens to limit their travel abroad except for urgent matters which cannot be postponed.
- For Indonesian citizens who are currently traveling abroad, they are expected to return to Indonesia immediately before experiencing further flight difficulties.
- A number of countries currently have policies to restrict traffic. Therefore, all Indonesian citizens are requested to keep a close watch on information in the safe-travel application or contact the nearest RI representative hotline.
- Regarding foreign visitors from all countries, the Government of Indonesia has decided that the Visa Free Arrival (BVK), Visa on Arrival and Free Diplomatic / Service Visa policies are suspended for 1 month.
- Therefore, every foreigner who will visit Indonesia is required to have a Visa from an Indonesian Representative in accordance with the purpose and purpose of the visit. When applying for a visa, you must attach a health certificate issued by the health authority in each country.
It took multiple attempts to cancel my flight and get a refund. I woke up this morning on a mission. I finished up some marketing work and walked to Khaosan Road to pick up a custom-tailored suit I ordered a few days prior with the last of my money from Bob’s Boutique Bespoke Tailor. It’s very common to be approached by suits salesmen in Bangkok, where you can get a high-quality suit for an affordable price compared to back in the States. I’ve been wearing the same shabby backpacker clothes for months and decided it’s time to dress to impress for upcoming business meetings. The hostel reception called the airline company Air Asia and the line was always busy. Probably due to the overwhelming demand of cancellations and refunds.
There was a brick and mortar location on Khaosan Road which turned out to be closed all day. I considered taking the shuttle or SkyTrain to Don Mueang International Airport but it was quite expensive, time-consuming, with no guarantee of success. I figured I would just wait until the flight date and make the necessary changes then. Luckily, I was able to chat with an online customer support representative on the Air Asia website, and after going around in circles for about 30 minutes, was finally able to successfully issue a refund. As if traveling in a foreign country during the Coronavirus outbreak media mass hysteria wasn’t difficult enough, that’s compounded by the fact I’m also going through these challenging times on a very tight shoestring budget with zero paying clients to speak of. I’ve been waiting on a large payment from Airbnb for just over 2 months. It will be a huge relief to finally get paid my commission at the end of March! In the meantime, thankfully I have support from my family and friends. Teamwork makes the dream work!
I recently met a smart guy (on the right) with an entrepreneurial spirit from The Netherlands at my cheap hostel on Khaosan Road, a backpacker haven in the tourism capital of Bangkok world-renowned for its nightlife scene. He’s a mechanical engineer and full-time consultant interested in growing a profitable online business this year for more location independence, financial freedom, and remote work opportunities. We will most likely explore a few islands off the coast, namely Koh Sumet famous for its beautiful beaches. Hopefully there will be less tourists given the “world-changing“ circumstances. I’m confident we can help each other succeed to reach our business goals in 2020.
The Coronavirus outbreak is actually an interesting case study for the digital nomad work-lifestyle at the forefront of encouraging others to work remotely or from-home. Tech giants including Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Twitter announced earlier this week, that most of their staff are mandated to work remotely due to the Coronavirus.
- Google parent company Alphabet is recommending that all employees in North America, Europe, Africa and the Middle East work remotely.
- Twitter has made working from home mandatory for all workers globally. The company is also in communication with its San Francisco staffers after an employee from that office developed symptoms consistent with coronavirus, though no official diagnosis has been made, according to a company spokesperson.
- Facebook is extending work from home guidance to all employees globally whose jobs allow them to do so, company spokesperson Anthony Harrison said in a statement to CNN.
- Amazon is recommending that employees globally work from home if their jobs allow, a spokesperson said in a statement to CNN.
This is good news for the early adopters of the digital nomad lifestyle who have already realized the importance of remote freelancer work from foreign locales. It’s no longer necessary to be caged in a cubicle office every weekday from 9-5. All you need is a laptop, fast Internet/Wi-Fi connection, comfortable place to work, one or more paying clients, and a deep desire to be your own boss! In a surreal sense, this Coronavirus scare can actually be seen as a wake-up call to escape the rat race! Change the way you interpret the world and the world around you changes.
Bali is a center of gravity for the digital nomad movement. There are so many co-working spaces on the island close to popular tourist attractions. Check out the list of co-working spaces on Chris The Freelancer. A lot of people in Canggu work in the morning or afternoon and go surfing or out to the bars/cafes during sunset and evening. Whereas in Ubud; the chilled-out spiritual center of Bali, it’s more common to relax with yoga, meditation, ecstatic dance, massages, ceremonies, cafes, chasing waterfalls, or sound healing. This was my home-base for almost one month during my adventures around Bali and will most likely remain so when I go back after this whole virus scare blows over, hopefully in the next few months. In the meantime, here’s the 5 safety precautions you can take to protect yourself and others, according World Health Organization (WHO).
Tomorrow I’m going to the US Immigration Office near the airport to extend my visa in Thailand to stay legally for another month. I can only make one land border crossing to extend my visa per year, which I already completed by Crossing the Border Into Myanmar. My visa expires in 6 days on March 24th at the time of writing. I’m confident this is the right decision at this time, and in all honesty, I’m probably a lot safer in Thailand. In stark contrasts to the US, Thailand is among the world’s leading medical tourism destinations. Most places require a mandatory temperature scan to identify those who are unsafe to enter a public venue.
For my readers who are interested in the process to extend your visa during a visit Bangkok, Thailand. I highly recommend exploring this beautiful country and its many paradise islands for at least one month!
Here’s What You’ll Need
- Your passport
- 1,900 Thai Baht
- 1 filled in application (get it at the immigration office)
- 1 passport photo (3.5 cm x 4.5 cm, they aren’t too picky like some places)
- 1 photocopy of your passport, you current Thai visa, and your stamps into the country
Unlike other inconvenient visa procedure offices around the world, the Thai immigration is remarkably convenient. You can get all your photocopies done once you’re there for just 1 Baht per page. Just walk to the photocopy center, tell them what you’re applying for and they will make the exact photocopies you need.
According to the official Thai Embassy website:
Visitors can now come regularly to Thailand without limiting their stay within a total of 90 days in a six-month period provided that they obtain 30 day Visa on Arrival at airports and 15 day Visa on Arrival if they are traveling via land borders.
However, immigration officials still recommend getting visas prior to arrival in Thailand, as they remind visitors that back-to-back short visas are not the proper way to extend the stay in the country on a long-term basis.