FOSSASIA 2024: An Unforgettable Experience in Vietnam

Journey to Vietnam

Embarking on my journey to FOSSASIA 2024, I felt a mix of excitement and anticipation. As I boarded my flight, the reality of the adventure ahead began to sink in. I arrived early in the morning on April 7th, filled with enthusiasm and a bit of jet lag, ready to dive into the vibrant culture of Vietnam and the exhilarating events planned for the conference.

Arrival in Hanoi

Landing in Hanoi, I was greeted by the warm, humid air and a bustling airport scene. I quickly hopped onto Bus Express 86, which conveniently took me from the airport to the heart of the city. The ride itself was a mini-tour, offering glimpses of Hanoi’s unique blend of traditional and modern architecture. My destination was Hotel LakeSide, where I was warmly welcomed and offered an early check-in at no extra cost—a gesture that felt like a blessing after a long flight. The hotel staff’s generosity allowed me to freshen up and catch a few hours of much-needed sleep before the scheduled Hanoi City Tour organized by FOSSASIA.

A special shout-out goes to Lily’s Travel Agency for arranging an amazing stay throughout the conference days. For transportation, I relied on Grab, a widely used cab application in Vietnam similar to Uber. Despite the language barrier, the local drivers were exceptionally supportive and always willing to go the extra mile, which made commuting around the city a breeze.

Exploring Hanoi

By 2 pm, I was ready for the city tour, excited to explore Hanoi’s rich history and culture. Our itinerary included visits to the One Pillar Pagoda, the Temple of Literature & National University, and the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long. Each site was more breathtaking than the last, steeped in history and surrounded by lush greenery. It was a day filled with fun, laughter, and new friendships. We shared stories, took countless photos, and even indulged in some silly antics that added a touch of whimsy to the day (try to find it in the photos!).

After the tour concluded around 7 pm, we split into groups to find dinner. I joined a few new friends for a delicious meal at a local restaurant, savoring the flavors of authentic Vietnamese cuisine. Later, I met Phu Nguyen, a KDE contributor from Hanoi, to collect a monitor for our booth. Phu, who works in Germany, couldn’t attend the event but was incredibly helpful in providing the display. With the monitor in hand, I returned to my hotel, reflecting on a day well spent and eagerly anticipating the start of the conference the next day.

Conference Kickoff

Each morning began with a hearty breakfast at the hotel, overlooking the serene Giang Vo Lake. Armed with hardware, promotional materials, and stickers, I set off for the Posts and Telecommunications Institute of Technology, where FOSSASIA 2024 was held. The venue buzzed with excitement, as hundreds of students and tech enthusiasts gathered around, curious about the event.

Our Booth: The Focal Point

Our booth, strategically placed next to FSFE, COSCUP, and CalyxOS, quickly became the busiest spot at the venue. With the invaluable help of Aniqa and Paul from the KDE promo team, we had an impressive setup that drew in crowds continuously. Aniqa and Paul were instrumental in organizing the booth, ensuring we had everything we needed, and providing ongoing support throughout the event. Tomaz joined us on the first day, bringing a reMarkable tablet and his personal laptop to enhance our setup. Our booth was a vibrant hub of activity, attracting attendees with emulations of Nintendo games and Tomaz’s impressive origami skills. He exchanged his intricate origami creations for discussions about KDE, engaging many curious students.

Engaging with the Community

The conference was a vibrant hub of activity, featuring organizations such as FreeCAD, AlmaLinux, and fossunited. It was inspiring to see the diversity of projects and the passion driving each community. Our booth quickly became the most popular, with attendees lining up to learn about KDE’s latest projects and initiatives. Despite most attendees being college students with limited funds, their enthusiasm for KDE was overwhelming. Tomaz’s origami talent truly stood out, drawing significant attention and sparking numerous conversations about open-source software and community contributions.

Walking through the venue, I marveled at the variety of booths and the innovative projects on display. The FreeCAD team showcased their latest developments in open-source CAD software, while AlmaLinux representatives engaged attendees with their enterprise-grade Linux distribution. fossunited’s booth was a hive of activity, emphasizing their mission to promote and support open-source projects in India. Each interaction was a learning opportunity, and the camaraderie among the open-source communities was palpable.

Evening Get-Togethers

Evenings were spent exploring the local culture, including a memorable Evening Get Together at Ta Hien Beer and Food Street. The lively atmosphere, coupled with delicious street food and refreshing drinks, made for perfect networking opportunities and deepened the bonds formed during the day. The conference days were a whirlwind of activity, leaving us with lasting impressions and numerous connections.

Sapa Valley Trek and Farewell

After the conference, I ventured to Sapa Valley for a three-day trek. The journey was a stark contrast to the bustling city, offering a tranquil escape into nature. Walking among the rice paddies, often alongside local farmers, and soaking in the serene landscape was a rejuvenating experience. The trek left me with fond memories of the picturesque valley, the warmth of the local people, and the breathtaking beauty of Vietnam’s countryside.

I returned on April 15th, with a heart full of memories and a mind brimming with inspiration from FOSSASIA 2024. The conference not only highlighted the incredible work being done in the open-source community but also showcased the rich culture and hospitality of Vietnam. Reflecting on the experience, I felt a deep sense of gratitude and excitement for the future.

I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to KDE e.V. for sponsoring my attendance at this event. Their support made this enriching experience possible, and I am profoundly grateful for the opportunity to represent the KDE Community at FOSSASIA 2024. Until next time, FOSSASIA!