Back in September, I headed off to Bangkok, Thailand to attend the first ever AWS APJ Community Summit. This event brought together 130 AWS Heroes, Community Builders, and User Group leaders for two days of learning, sharing, and networking.

It was about a 10 hour flight for me from Munich straight to Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok.

Landing in Bangkok

I found a couple of my coworkers in the airport – Rohini and Mark! We agreed to carpool to the hotel together.

Me, Rohini, and Mark

Unbeknownst to us, we were about to hit rush hour traffic so it took us more than an hour to get to the hotel. I had a great first view of the city though.


The event was being held at the Anantara Siam Hotel Bangkok, and wow, it did not disappoint. Rohini and I were invited to sit down and have some tea while they checked us in.

Checking in

My room was lovely! I felt very welcomed. 🙂

Welcome sign on TV

It felt odd to be taking a trip without the Snook! I sent him a selfie to show him I’d arrived safely.

My room

I was pretty hungry, so I headed downstairs to have dinner with my colleague Ridhima.

Me and Ridhima

To my delight, we ran into a crowd of AWS Community folks from Australia and New Zealand! A few of them were familiar faces to me, but others I was meeting for the first time. For most of them, this was the first overseas trip since Covid.

Aussies and Kiwis

The next morning, I headed out on a city tour with the full contingent of Aussies and Kiwis. (Because of their long travel time, the Antipodeans all arrived a day early.) I’m sitting with my colleague Jason, who runs the Community Builders program.

City tour

Our first destination was the Grand Palace, the residence of the kings of Siam (and later Thailand) for hundreds of years. We parked some way away and then walked over with our local guide.

Grand Palace, Bangkok

We entered the Palace complex, and it was already turning into a brutally hot day.

Grand Palace, Bangkok

We walked past amazing murals showing scenes from Thai history and the Buddhist religion.

Grand Palace, Bangkok

The Palace was very opulent and beautiful. I loved the colourful statues.


The Palace complex also contains Wat Phra Si Rattana Satsadaram, also known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. The gold tower here is the Phra Si Rattana Chedi.

Phra Si Rattana Chedi

You might notice in the photos that several of us are wearing questionable skirts and trousers. This is because the Temple is the most sacred Buddhist temple in Thailand, and having bare legs is not allowed. I bought a sarong from a local seller to tie around my waist.


Wat Phra Kaew

The Temple of the Emerald Buddha itself was amazingly beautiful. It’s covered in gold and colourful tiles and precious stones.

Wat Phra Kaew

You have to take off your shoes to go inside, and no photos are allowed. A crowd of people were sitting on the floor, just having a moment of peaceful contemplation. Many people brought in lotus flowers as offerings. After a short visit, I went for a walk around the outside of the temple.

Wat Phra Kaew

I ran into my colleague Belinda, who helped organise the tour for us! ❤️

Me and Belinda

Even the ceiling was elaborately decorated.


We had some time to walk around, so I just wandered on my own, taking photos of beautiful statues and peaceful corners of the Palace complex.


Lotus flowers

Grand Palace, Bangkok

This is a statue of a kinnara, a mythological half human, half bird.


I was starting to feel a bit pink by this point…


…so it was time to break out the sun protection. Behind me is the Phra Thinang Boromphiman, where visiting Heads of State stay when they visit Bangkok.

Me with umbrella and mask

From the Palace, we walked the short distance to the Chao Phraya River, where we caught a ferry across to the other side.

River ferry

Me and Belinda again.

Me and Belinda

That river water did not look very inviting, despite the heat of the day.


Our destination was Wat Arun (“The Temple of Dawn”), one of Bangkok’s most well known landmarks.

Me and Wat Arun

The central tower (“prang”) is encrusted with porcelain.

Wat Arun

I climbed up a couple levels and walked around, checking out the statues and decorations.

Wat Arun

Wat Arun

The final part of the tour was a long-tail boat ride along the river. We had to scramble out on the prow to get onboard!

Long-tail boat

I’m on a boat! And thankfully by this point the sun had gone behind the clouds.

Long-tail boat

Our guide took us down some of the canals off the river and pointed out landmarks along the way.

Long-tail boat

River cruise

At one point, we stopped along the riverbank near a temple. Our guide had a surprise for us, he said. He pulled out a bag of bread rolls, and I thought for a minute he was going to hand out a snack. Then he chucked one of the rolls in the river, and the surface suddenly ERUPTED with giant catfish fighting over the bread. It was one of the most astonishing things I’ve ever seen.

Giant catfish

Back at the hotel, it was time that evening to kick off the Community Summit with a welcome dinner.

Community Summit Welcome Dinner

We had a lot of fun over the next two days. I was honoured to get to kick things off with my colleague Shafraz in the morning, and I then gave a keynote about the future of the AWS community.

Me doing the welcome with Shafraz

One of my favourite sessions was from my colleague Derek and one of the Australian Heroes Pete Hanssens, talking about lessons learned for running hybrid meetups during the pandemic.

Derek and Pete presenting

At one point I got a message from my colleague Gregor Hohpe, who happened to be in Bangkok that week. We invited him to come join us…

Me and Mark and Gregor

At the end of day one, all of the attendees crammed onto the hotel staircase for a group photo. I stood with the Aussie contingent, and we were embarrassed to see that other folks had brought along proper flags and such. We quickly improved using our phones. 😂

The Aussies

Shafraz managed to take a selfie and fit most of us in!

Group photo

On one of the evenings, we held an awards ceremony and talent night. One of the guys taught us all how to Bhangra dance!

Bhangra dance

We also had a demonstration of traditional Thai fon lep dancing (“fingernail dance”). It was very elegant and mesmerising.

Thai dancers

As Rohini was going to soon be moving to Canada, we showed a special video we made for her. I also presented her with a “Canada gift pack” including ice scraper, gloves, and a hand-knitted hat I made her. (The pattern is called My Canada on Ravelry.)

We had suggested folks bring their national costumes to wear for the dinner, and they did not disappoint. Here are all the award winners from the night.

Award winners

I wore the AWS dress, of course. Here’s me, Ridhima, and Derek rocking the Akubra. (You can tell I got some sun on the tour!)

Me, Ridhima, and Derek

Here’s a group shot of the fabulous ASEAN community…

ASEAN community

Here’s me with my colleagues Rio (based in Indonesia) and Donnie (based in Singapore). We were having fun!

Me, Donnie, and Rio

On the last afternoon, we had several presentations from different AWS user groups around the world. These guys from the Japan AWS user group (“JAWS“) told us all about how they ran their massive JAWS Pankration 2021 event. It was an awesome talk, made even more so when you realise they weren’t presenting in their native language!

JAWS presentation

We also had a fantastic panel discussion from some of the women in the community. I was really interested to meet Barsha from Nepal, who talked about what a challenge she had just getting to Thailand for the event.

Women in tech session

Honestly, the JAWS crew have the best swag and branding of any developer community I’ve ever seen!

The JAWS crew

We produced a video of all the highlights from the Community Summit, if you want to see more of the vibe and attendees.

My colleague Justin Garrison came all the way from the US for the event, and he brought his super understanding wife with him. I had mentioned to the two of them that I was eager to visit the Moomin Cafe in Bangkok once the Summit finished, and they said they’d come along with me. When our first taxi driver dropped us off at the wrong spot, we decided to be brave and hop into a tuk-tuk!


This was especially tricky as the driver didn’t speak English. We had a hell of a time trying to explain where we were going. I was showing him on Google Maps, but mine was in English and he couldn’t read the streets. At one point, he had me HOTSPOT HIM with my phone so that he could see the location on his phone. It was wild.

Me and Justin in a tuk-tuk

Happily, our gamble paid off and we eventually made it to the Moomin Cafe!

Moomin Cafe

The “cafe” was super small – really just a kiosk in a shopping center. They had a few tables with some plushies though that you could sit with, and a small selection of merch to buy.

Moomin Cafe

Still, I was in my happy place, even with the Groke staring over my shoulder!

Me and the Groke

Justin and his wife hadn’t been familiar with the Moomins before, but I successfully indoctrinated them and they went home with gifts for their kids!

Us at the Moomin Cafe

Thankfully we were able to get a proper taxi back to the hotel, and I said farewell to the Garrisons and packed up to head to the airport. I had a late night flight this time. There was very little traffic and soon I was back at the airport ready to head home!

Thai Airport