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Nina in Nomad Land, Part 1: Letting Go & Living in Thailand

„Travelling and working without a permanent residence – and with a twelve-year-old child? It’s possible, albeit with hurdles, first and foremost: cinema in mind. My first nomadic stop was Thailand last year.” Nina Winkler, Journalist and Fitness trainer

My decision came at the end of 2021, and it came insidiously. After two years on the Covid circuit, constant thoughts of escape, being separated from my South African family and other annoying restrictions, the picture became more and more concrete. What had started as a vague feeling prevailed – and the desire to travel as a source of transformation and development won out. My mind was made up: we were leaving Germany, with all the consequences. But before the suitcases could be packed, a few things had to be clarified. First and foremost: Is it possible to implement this plan with a school-age twelve-year-old child?

Everything goes online

The answer is yes, if you give up your residence without compromise, because Germany does not allow online schooling (what irony after the lapses during the pandemic!). As I had a yoga retreat planned for November 2022 in Krabi, the first stop on our nomadic journey was set – and there was plenty of time to plan and research online school options for James. My work had been remotely possible for years anyway: magazine articles and books can be written anywhere in the world, after all … Digital Nomad Lifestyle, here we come!

Ao Nang, Krabi
Ao Nang, Krabi

Free as a bird

My son was a bit sceptical at first, but he quickly realised the growing amount of freedom it gave him: Online school, wearing tracksuit bottoms all the time, being in cool places all the time and experiencing a lot, mum always close by, trying out all kinds of new sports, trying new delicious food – it soon wasn’t very hard to convince him of the benefits of a mobile life. And then came the reality check.

Letting go costs strength

Dealing with authorities, giving notice, moving house and converting to the digital lifestyle were no easy task: Soon I no longer had a single insurance policy, no flat, no utilities and no car. Instead, we now call a mobile router and a super-equipped school and gaming laptop our own. The deregistration from Germany marked an important turning point for us: James has been registered with a German-language online grammar school since January 2022 and has been doing his lessons exclusively online ever since.

No books, no paper: that was a big challenge at first. An MS Teams account wanted understood, discipline and a very structured way of working had to be learned and implemented quickly. But my son overcame this hurdle quite quickly and is now highly organised. The good thing for me as a mother: I can see everything via my parent account and intervene before a problem builds up unnoticed for weeks. Another bonus: The school management is incredibly nice and the teachers are open to criticism. Mr Berner runs their Wilhelm-von-Humboldt-Schule extremely competently and is happy about interest in their school: For us, it is the best grammar school so far and it is fun to develop together with the school and to go new ways.

Ao Nang Cliff Beach Resort, Krabi

Off to Krabi!

November came quickly and off we went: Thailand welcomed us with open arms, as expected. After a reasonably pleasant long-haul flight with Thai Airways to Krabi via Bangkok, we were allowed to check into the tropical oasis of Aonang Cliff View and spend a week there amidst huge banana trees, palm trees and jungle sounds. This tsunami safe a little way from the sea, set against a picturesque cliff backdrop.

Unfortunately, we had underestimated the rainy season: very quickly it became clear that I had not packed the blue, garbage-bag-like rain capes for nothing and that the weather would also be heavy with rain for at least four weeks. It was good that we could plan our day ourselves and were not dependent on school or work schedules. Great scooter trips and sunny afternoons at The Boat Café consoled us a little about that. After a week of rain, we still had enough and needed a place that was more sunny. So we decided to continue our journey …

Staying mobile is everything

On Koh Samui, we were surprised: After a pleasant journey by minibus and ferry from Krabi via Surat Thani to Koh Samui, we were able to enjoy the friendliness of the Thai resort manager Leo at the Am Samui Resort – for little money, he offered us a drastic upgrade, because it was still low season: So we were able to spend a dreamy two weeks in an octagon with four glass walls directly on the beach, where we had unobstructed access to the sea, and it got even better: The Muay Thai studio was right next door!

As you know, sport is a very big part of my life, but flexibility is just as important to me: so of course I had to get a scooter again here on the island! Good to know: The scooters, which are either from Honda or Yamaha, are all 125cc and therefore (theoretically) require a motorbike driving licence. Although the helmets would definitely not get a TÜV, as a responsible mother I insisted on them. Since I don’t like head lice, the helmets were thoroughly disinfected beforehand and then put on with a buff underneath. It looks stupid, but the head protectors are all without style there anyway.

By the way, the weather on the islands is timed completely differently than on the Andaman coast, where we were before: Here it tends to rain at the beginning of the year, while in November and December it is relatively dry. So the downpours were limited at the end of October, beginning of November. I wrote when it rained and explored the island with James when it was sunny.

Pure internet power

By the way, working remotely is incredibly easy throughout Thailand: with a data card for your mobile phone that is valid for two months, you can surf at unlimited speed for less than 20 euros and easily set up a hotspot for two laptops if, like us, you have to spend a few hours on the bus. Every hotel, but also every ramshackle bamboo hut has super-fast Wi-Fi, and many better hotels are equipped with smart TVs. We didn’t have to use the mobile router once during the entire two months!

Tough, but heartfelt

On Koh Samui, we found the interior of the island very appealing: hours of scooter tours through partly wild, very poorly accessible terrain would have been more the case for real motocross motorbikes. But we also mercilessly chased our rental scooter up and down every unpaved road. In the midst of the island landscape, there are great hidden highlights such as the Seaview Restaurant, which is absolutely worth a visit. We spent several hours here with very friendly people and a fantastic sea view, which we only knew in this form from the Conrad Hotel.

Of course, we also had to pay a visit to Koh Phangan: Not for the Fullmoon party, though, but to visit a yoga retreat centre where I will be offering a retreat. The Orion Healing Centre not only impresses with its great location right by the sea, but also thrilled me with the vegan cuisine of chef Cooper. Unfortunately, we only had one day on this beautiful island: next time we will definitely spend more time on the much less crowded, very natural island! Maybe I’ll hold a yoga retreat here sometime.

Among people again

Anana Krabi

After our freelance trip with many writing assignments, I was booked as a yoga teacher for a group retreat: In Krabi, I was allowed to teach over 20 ladies in the beautiful 5-star Hotel Anana Krabi. What an experience – but also really exhausting when you have to deal with so many different characters.

Afterwards, a private retreat with a dear individual client was on my work schedule at the same hotel: For ten days we were able to work intensively on her yoga practice and she learned many advanced postures. Fantastic excursions, for example to an elephant sanctuary where rescued working elephants are allowed to enjoy a life without stress, optimally underlined this time of spiritual growth.

My Thailand conclusion: In my opinion, the south is perfect for digital nomads and especially for beginners of the mobile lifestyle! The internet connection was always top notch. Hygienically, you can’t apply European standards, but with a closed eye and above all a look at the price-performance ratio, it’s more than okay. As a woman, I felt safe at all times, and as a mother, I never had any concerns about safety. Definitely fly there!

Nina Winkler …

Nina Winklerthen travelled to cold December Germany for a fortnight and was glad that her son and she already had the tickets for the next nomad trip to Cape Town in their hands. She will soon be reporting on her experiences on her Nomad Tour in South Africa in Bleisure Traveller as “Nina in Nomad Land, Part 2”.anschließend für zwei Wochen ins kalte Dezember-Deutschland und war froh, dass ihr Sohn und sie da schon die Tickets für den nächsten Nomadentrip nach Kapstadt in den Händen hielten. Über die Erlebnisse bei ihrer Nomad-Tour in Südafrika wird sie bald bei uns im Bleisure Traveller berichten, als “Nina in Nomad Land, Part 2”.

Photos: © Nina Winkler