Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Trip to Jakarta and miscellaneous notes

I just came back from a whirlwind trip to Jakarta. I was there as a volunteer/presenter/judge at the Yahoo Open Hack Day SEA 2009. There were a few uniques on this trip for me:

  • Firstly, its the first time I have crossed the equator. This means I have seen both hemispheres. Not a big deal, but still..
  • Its also the first time I have been on a trip where I did not step out even once. This is absolutely new to me. Whenever I travel to any place for official work, I always find time to step into the city, take a walk, do some clicking or just plain shopping. If its a place I have friends, then meeting with friends in included too. But this trip had none of it. All I did was go from Airport to Hotel, then to Balai Kartini for the event, back to hotel and then to airport for the return. Why? The reasons are multiple - We had a tight schedule; The company, and the International SOS, had scared us off too much from venturing out due to high crime rate in Jakarta (maybe its not true), and somehow it worked; I stayed at Hotel Mulia which was so comfortable that it managed to keep me indoors even when I had a bit of free time.
I had the privilege to work with some amazing people on this event:
  • I met AP, a fantastic colleague with loads of experience in traveling and conducting events. The other interesting aspect, as far as I am concerned, is that he is gay. I had the opportunity to chat up with him for long hours - something I haven't done with any homosexual ever. I am a big homosexuality supporter and have been to gay/lesbian bars at Castro St, San Francisco, and chatted up with people, but those were all strangers. This one was a better experience and I have to say meeting AP was one of the high points in my travel meetings with people. (I owe him USD 40 from my duty free shopping.)
  • I met PS, who is a swede but lives and breathes Asia. As a sales guy who has setup multiple teams from scratch, his experiences and opinions about Asia, including his stays in Pakistan was most eye opening.
  • I met JL, who is a french-canadian, but lives in the bay area. He is not only a great technical talent for Y!, he also threw some light on his travels and experience of being a Canadian AND a californian, including his thoughts on dual citizenship.
  • The entire marketing team (SC, Ly, DZ, Ta etc) from the Singapore office kept me enlightened on the various innards of being a singaporean and about the various races in the Island, the consequences thereof (w.r.t education) and a bit about Mandarin and Chinese, were all great discussions. Also, they were among the best organizing teams I have met. Great company indeed.
  • Everybody else who came there, including the Yahoo engineering team, the e27 team, the local organizing team, the execs, Stacy, and anybody I might have missed out inadvertently, were all excellent company. Its quite rare that you go to an event and meet 50 other people and not even meet a single dork who pisses you off. But this one that.
Thanks to everybody for making it a pleasant trip.

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