About two weeks ago, I was preparing myself for a long trip to Thailand. This would also be my first trip to Asia. After WordCamp Asia was canceled in 2020 just 9 days before the event, it finally happened in 2023! It was the first edition of this new flagship event.
Travelling to Thailand
I haven’t really planned the day perfectly. The flight from Berlin was going at 08:55 in the morning. As it Super Bowl Sunday, I was facing myself with very little sleep. (Un)fortunately I didn’t felt well Sunday evening, so I went to bed really early and skipped watching the Super Bowl live 🙁
But with some good sleep, I arrived a BER airport and took my first flight to Helsinki. From there I took the second flight to Bangkok. The around 11 hours went by quite fast, enjoying some entertainment. As I cannot sleep in planes, I arrived a little tired 06:00 local time. From the airport I took a train to the city and then the metro. Walking to the hotel, I got some first experiences on how Thailand is different to Europe, especially in terms of traffic. But I was also quite surprised of the many street food places on my walk. Checking was only at 14:00, but fortunately I was able to get my room at around 10:00 paying only 300 baht (around 9€) extra. So after almost 24 hours of traveling, I finally got some good sleep 🙂
On Tuesday and Wednesday I had the chance to see a bit of the city. Wednesday was the only day of my trip with some rain (at times quite heavy), but I managed to meet some people to experience China Town. It first seemed a bit odd to visit an Asian country and then go to China Town, but it was pretty fascinating. I also took one of the ferries on the river, one of the really fast ones!
Meeting the community
On Thursday, I moved hotels and met with my colleagues from Inpsyde. We stayed at the main hotel right next to the venue. Just hanging around in the lobby, you met many WordPress community members. Some of them I haven’t seen for quite a while. Well, even when they also have been to WCEU in Porto, I was just too busy to talk to them. Before heading to some side events, I briefly visited one of the many temples in Bangkok:
The first side event was “The WordPress Enterprise Gap” hosted by Human Made. It was like a WordPress meetup with some talks and a panel. The topics were around how to attract enterprise clients to WordPress.
I would have loved to join the “GoDaddy Pro Island” party on a boat, as I really liked this event in Porto, but it overlapped with the other events. So I then joined some colleagues and friends at the “WooCommerce Community” event. It was a nice location next to the river and I had some good talks … even though I’m personally not too much into eCommerce in general 🙂
The last side event of the day was the “Superheroes Pride Party” organized by Yoast, codeable and Bluehost. As the location was the hotel I was staying, it was a perfect end of the day. And it was a lot of fun for many people.
On Friday, WordCamp Asia officially started with its Contributor Day. I wasn’t really sure which team I would join, but as I’ve met Alex there, and he had some questions regarding the ticketing/registration on WordCamps, I joined the Meta Team again. We both tried to set up a local environment for WordCamp.org … but failed 😞 But I was able to fix some issues, created a PR with one fix and an issue for the other problem. Hopefully we can fix this for new contributors before the next WordCamp.
In the evening I went for dinner with my colleague Viola. First, we took a look at the many different food places in the venue, but were overwhelmed with the options. We then finally found a nice little restaurant just down the street serving some great Thai dishes.
The first conference day
Saturday was the first conference day. As for any flagship WordCamp, it started off with the Opening Remarks:
The schedule was packed with many great topics. But I’ve skipped the first slot to talk to some old WordPress friends I haven’t seen since WCEU Berlin in 2019.
Advanced Performance & Scalability for PHP Developers
In the second slot, I attended the session presented by Alain Schlesser. One topic of this talk was surrounding caches. He gave some great advice on how to cache things, on different levels and in a granular way, and how to invalidate the cache when necessary.
Think like a hacker: Attack your WordPress
After this I watched Matthias Held hacking a website live on stage of one of the attendees. But he was not hacking the live website, only a copy and the attendee volunteered for this 🙂 Even though there were not too many security issues, Matthias was able to showcase how a XSS attack could be used to steal the PHP session of a logged in (administrator) user through a manipulated link in an outdated and vulnerable plugin.
Success stories of HeroPress
After lunch break, Topher DeRosia shared some stories from HeroPress. I’m following his projects for many years now, and many friends from the WordPress community have already posted their essays there. Maybe one day I will share my story as well.
The Ultimate Newsroom QA: how to manage your editorial workflow like a boss
Being a solo blogger, things are easy for me. I just need to decide what I want to blog about and write it down. Blogging in a larger team is more challenging, and Francesca Marano gave a lot of insights on how she successfully ran an Italian blog with many different authors.
Meeting the sponsors
No WordCamp would be possible without the sponsors. In the next two slot, I skipped the sessions and talked to different sponsors. Many of my WordPress friends work for some of them, and it was nice to catch up how they have been in the last few years.
Migrating WordPress Core to GitHub Actions: A Retrospective
The last session I’ve attended on the first day was held by Jonathan Desrosiers in which he presented some insight on how WordPress migrated all automated tests to GitHub actions.
Thai dinner with the team
The first two days were quite busy, and we finally took the time to have a team dinner with all Inpsyders attending the event. We took a ferry to “Asiatique The Riverfront” and had a large variety of Thai food. On the way back, we took a tuk tuk, something I have never done before. Back at the hotel, we met some other WordCamp attendees in the bar at the top of the hotel.
The second conference day
As the previous day ended quite late – or early – I took some good sleep to have enough energy for the second half of talks.
AMA – Ask Matt Anything
That’s why I only watched the first talk using the live stream. Matt also couldn’t join, as he had to care for his family. But some of the questions he got asked were quite interesting. I still have to watch the full session, but he casually announced that Gutenberg phase 3 is starting now.
Stepping Back To Move Forward
After some coffee and a small breakfast snack, I joined the first lightning talk by Carole Olinger. Her talk was the first of three lightning talks focussing on mental health. These are the types of talks I really like to attend on WordCamps. One of the things she presented was the concept of JOMO – Joy of Missing Out – to make us aware that it’s OK not to always participate in all things possible.
The Power Of Empathy
The second mental health lightning talk was focussing on empathy and presented by Ajit Bohra. This is the quote I liked most in his talk:
Look for the Good
The last talk was held by Michelle Frechette, and she was speaking about times can be hard – like the past years with the pandemic – but also about how she and many of us have been finding new opportunities in those challenging times.
Panel: Building WordPress Communities in Your Country
Then I’ve attended the only panel of WordCamp Asia. Rahul D Sarker, M Asif Rahman, Miriam Schwab, Amit Bajracharya, Angela Jin and Hajime Ogushi were talking about their local communities and answered many questions from the audience on how to build a strong community in a country.
Ten Minutes on Five for the Future: A commitment to WordPress and the Open Web
After the lunch break, Hari Shanker presented the “Five for the Future” initiative of WordPress. The goal is to encourage every company using WordPress to give back 5% to the open source project. In the Q&A I’ve asked on how individual contributions could be highlighted a bit more, as currently, there is only a listing of companies. Hari also wrote a blog post on Make WordPress and I will probably make some suggestions on how we could show all these people helping the projects while not working for a company.
Spending more time with friends
Two people I was looking forward most at WordCamp Asia were Ellen and Manuel the couple behind Elmastudio and AinoBlocks. I have not talked to them since Contributor Day at WCEU 2019 and was really happy to catch up.
Closing Remarks … and the announcement of the next host city
Following the tradition of flagship events, in the closing remarks all people involved were asked to join the organizers on stage. Around 1300 attendees made it to the first edition of WordCamp Asia. At the very end, the new host city was announced:
So next year we will meet in Taipei, Taiwan! I really hope that I can make it again to see yet another new Asian country. I want to thank all the organizers of WordCamp Asia 2023 and wish the team all the best!
Sure, there was an after party at WordCamp Asia 😉 It was a large open air venue with some (live) music, amazing food and some dances I haven’t seen before 🙂
If you want to see more pictures, just follow up on the #WCAsia hashtag on Twitter or take a look at the shared gallery with pictures from many attendees.
Workation in Thailand
On Monday, we headed to a place around 3h south-west of Bangkok. I could only spend one day with my colleagues, but it was a nice finish of my trip:
A WordCamp of “first times”
Visiting WordCamp Asia was my first trip to Asia. It was also the first WordCamp Asia. It was the first (in-person) WordCamp being only an attendee for quite a while. And it was the first time I was attending a WordCamp since I started my new job at Inpsyde last October. My next WordCamp will probably be WordCamp Vienna, followed by WordCamp Europe in Athens, this time probably as a speaker. I want to close this blog post with the after movie my colleague Viola produced: