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Tea Leaves

Digital nomads push Southeast Asia's boundaries

New visa rules help remote workers, but need careful consideration

An outdoor office on the Indonesian island of Nusa Lembongan. The unprecedented dearth of tourism caused by pandemic shutdowns has prompted many governments in Southeast Asia to reevaluate digital nomads as a source of long-term income, rather than a nuisance. (Getty Images) 

In September 2008, I stepped off a bus in Mohan, China, and walked across the border to the tiny town of Boten, Laos, entering Southeast Asia for the first time. Back then I was exploring east Asia full time as a freewheeling "nomad," typing up diaries on an ancient Asus laptop, and using internet cafes to get around the limitations of my basic cellphone.

I was too early (and too analog) to be one of the tribe now known as "digital nomads" -- the mostly Western, young and tech-savvy remote workers who earn a living online from locations of their choosing as they explore an increasingly connected world.

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