I recently culminated ~5+ months of travel in Europe, South and East Asia. Countries traveled to included Ireland, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and SAR (Special administrative region) of China; Hong Kong and Macau.
As this is an IT related blog I thought I would jot down a few tips for others and myself for future reference.
Internet Connectivity and Devices
I originally left Sydney with my iPhone and a cheapish laptop, within a week it became obvious that the laptop was a thorn in my side both with regards to security (theft) and also weight. I quickly off loaded this as a present to my mother and settled on smartphone only travel. The iPhone served its purpose but I did miss the larger screen and more high level features of a tablet. I purposely left my Surface RT V1 in Sydney (storage) as I found this device and o/s to be a headache to say the least, another days story. During a trip to Singapore (at the early stages of my travels) I purchased a Nexus 7 tablet and never looked back. I have since bought a Nexus 5 smartphone on arrival back to Australia.
Internet connectivity is very good in South and East Asia, some countries better than others with regards speed. I purchased a sim card with 3G data plans in every country I was in except Singapore as I was only there for a few days. 3G sim and data is very cheap (Thailand being the most expensive IMO) and generally the connection is very good for daily browsing. Asia is very good for WiFi hot-spots and lots of the places I stayed in had free internet in the nightly room price.
Professional Development (the real reason for this blog post)
I set a goal before I left Australia that I wanted to do at least 2 hours per day keeping up-to-date with Cloud related technologies. Looking back I think I pretty much met this goal or even broke it. I decided that Twitter would be my only source of content along with some online courses e.g. Pluralsight, YouTube, Webinars (Gigaom, etc.) . I backed away from my RSS reader and made a conscious decision to stop reading blogs about BizTalk, .NET/Visual Studio, SharePoint etc. (basically declared temporary Tech bankruptcy on development languages and vendor products outside of a pure Cloud play ).
I picked a handful of thought leaders in the Cloud space and followed them closely on Twitter and the blogosphere. I also tracked some of the main Cloud Service Providers as they released updates to their services and focused mainly on Microsoft, AWS, Rackspace, IBM, Red Hat and Docker. I followed Gartner and Forrester analysts for Cloud and also the independent Cloud analysts e.g. Ben Kepes. To reduce Twitter drift (trying to avoid reading all sorts of garbage) and to stay focused on the pertinent Cloud stories of the day I used the excellent aggregator Web Site http://tame.it/ to neatly condense my Twitter network stories into the ’top 10’.
I made a conscious decision not to read any books on my travels, 1.) due to weight, 2.) I didn’t bring my kindle and 3.) I enjoy reading Cloud blogs so this was my downtime and professional development in one! I also used mail, social media and news apps to fill in the other aspects of the Internet and social as a means to communicate with family and friends. For all voice communication Skype was my tool of choice.
Another piece of professional development outside of IT was at least one hour per day on the Asian news channels focusing more on APAC news stories and business today in the emerging markets (China etc.). This dovetailed quite nicely into my travel plans with regards an insight into places like Singapore and Hong Kong.
Lastly I went to the first ever two day Cloud Expo Asia conference in Singapore with a goal of expanding my network and also my understanding of ‘the Cloud’ in Asia, this was an excellent conference which I was glad to have worked into my backpacking travels.
- I believe I’m a much more well-rounded Cloud Architect (breath) having took the downtime to skill up on new Cloud Service Providers/Technology e.g. OpenStack
- Hong Kong and Singapore truly are amazing business cities, I would happily work there. HK had that amazing wow factor I haven’t really seen in a city since I briefly lived in New York many moons ago.
- I set a LinkedIn goal to grow my network before I left Sydney, I wanted this to organically grow but had an aim to focus on new connections in APAC, I managed to achieve this.
- The ‘professional development’ I did on the road has further enhanced my Cloud knowledge and given me a greater appreciation and understanding of Asia; its culture, the movers and shakers.
This post is very much a reflection in how I kept my finger on the pulse whilst taking an extended hiatus from I.T. (hopefully there are some good takeaways, I know I’ll be referencing this post when I do the next ‘Big Trip’ someday!)