BarCamp Saigon 2013

[BarCamp Saigon] VN Trip July 06-08 2013

This last weekend I joined the ‘Cambodian Contingent’ (15 people) organized by Open Institute‘s BarCamp impresario Be Chantra for a brief visit to Ho Chi Minh City for ‘BarCamp Saigon‘.

It’s about a six hour ride by bus, which means an early morning start. Geek alert: once we crossed the border, my Khmer friends immediately got Vietnamese 3G sim cards so they could ‘check in’. :)

We landed in the heart of the traveler district, taking small but comfortable rooms in Bui Vien street. (Felt a little bit like a more restrained Khao San Road.) I got in touch with some mutual friends Chantra and I had met at Mekong ICT Camp this May.

[BarCamp Saigon] VN Trip July 06-08 2013

BarCamp Saigon was slated to take place on Sunday the 7th. The following day, while Chantra, his family and the other travelers went for a visit to Dai Nam park, I did a quick recon of the venue and tried to figure out the city a little bit.


When the time came for dinner, our Vietnamese friends pulled out all the stops to find a good restaurant, and we ate with gusto. We were joined by photographer/food aficionado Vinh Dao, formerly of Phnom Penh, now living in Saigon, and some Mekong ICT Camp alumni.

[BarCamp Saigon] VN Trip July 06-08 2013

[BarCamp Saigon] VN Trip July 06-08 2013


The next day called for an early start. As it turned out, over 3000 people had registered for the event!

  The opening session got off to an enthusiastic start with the urging of team leader Anh Minh-Do and a huge assemblage of enthusiastic volunteers. DSC03872

Many of the sessions seemed to have a fairly technical bent. I was pleased to have a good crowd for my talk on E-Books.
Publish Your E-Book

Publish Your E-Book
(Above two photos courtesy Ta Thuy Trang)

I’d presented on this topic before (BarCamp Angkor) but it was a 3 minute ‘Lightning Talk’ and it was great to elaborate in less haste.

The ‘Cambodian Contingent’ was mainly there to watch, and departed just before noon so they could be back at work on Monday. Lunch time offered free meal vouchers, but it was *packed* so we decided to retreat and actually buy our lunch.


I had mooted the idea of a ‘Blogger Showcase’ for the afternoon, and initially it looked like there would be only three presenters. We were happy to be joined some BarCamp BarCamp/Tech meetup stalwarts.


I led off with my patented freestyle rap, Vinh Dao talked about his passion for food (NyamPenh, Vietnomnom), and Ta Tuy Trang profiled her writing/photography blog. Kounila Keo (Blue Lady Blog) told of how her blog contributed to personal and professional growth. Preetam Rai (Smarter By Sharing) finished off with a charming story on how he met his wife via a blog comment. [BarCamp Saigon] VN Trip July 06-08 2013 Ta Tuy Trang [BarCamp Saigon] VN Trip July 06-08 2013 Kounila Keo [BarCamp Saigon] VN Trip July 06-08 2013 Preetam Rai

After that most of us explored the other talks. There were plenty of informal discussions: one attendee was interested in how to take photos and be creative on a daily or weekly basis. I suggested he look into Illustration Friday’s prompts.


I was interviewed by two students who (at first) I’d thought were writing up a profile for a blog or student newspaper. It later turned out they were new to BarCamps and presenting and just wanted to get a better grasp of how it all worked.

By the time BarCamp was winding down the remaining people from the Blogger talk headed out for an early dinner, and then we checked in at the raucous, post-event ‘BeerCamp’.


Preetam, Kounila & Co. were headed back to the same area, and did some ‘due diligence’ by checking in with some IT community friends. (One was Minh Ngoc, a Mekong ICT alumni from 2010!) That was a pleasant surprise. We caught up on varied geek topics, it’s always good to bounce ideas around.

Preetam and Wikpedian Anirudh Singh Bati topped off the evening with some Indian food. I managed to have one more glass of beer and that was it for me. All told, a great turnout and a fun evening. (Let’s see if the organizers can top it next year.)

My Flickr photos:

One Response to “BarCamp Saigon 2013”

Leave a Reply