That was my first time visiting Indonesia and also the first time I heard about an ASEAN blogger community.
Before my departure, Hanoi Grapevine had the initiative of posting the event on our website, with the purpose of sharing my experience at the Kuala Lumpur conference to encourage more young Vietnamese people to blog.
The post might sound quite a serious piece of news, but in fact the conference was much more informal and much more fun than all those guidelines and discussion theme.
I was actually astonished to know that there was a huge community with blogger members from the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Cambodia and Myanmar, and even more surprised that many bloggers in Vietnam didn’t even know about its existence. There were only 2 popular names from Vietnam that often popped up in my conversations with other bloggers in the region, which were Huyen Chip, a famous traveler who pioneered the recent trend of backpacking travel among Vietnamese young generation, and Minh Caligarn, a Vietnamese American blogger based in Ho Chi Minh City who now also blogs for Tech in Asia. A few other names appeared here and there but it seemed like most of them were “tech guys” that I didn’t know much about.
Besides making friends with a lot of amazing people from all over ASEAN, I also found out many chances for bloggers to go professional, i.e earning a living from mere blogging. A Malaysian full-time blogger I met said that he made money 100% from Google Adsense, while another blogger (also from Malaysia) told me she was constantly looking for bloggers in all over South East Asia to write branded content for her clients. She said she always had a hard time finding Vietnamese life-style bloggers, and that was something that Vietnam should and could totally improve. Moreover, many other bloggers at the conference who have involved in this community for a while have always been paid for their travels, sometimes as far as South Africa or Sweden. I really think this can open up a whole new horizon for the young generation in Vietnam. Personally speaking, I’m not THAT young any more and I also entered this blogging world a bit too late, thus, I believe the chance (or challenge) is all left to the “9x generation” (who were born in the 1990s) to change the future of Vietnam’s blogging scene.
During the conference, I also had the chance to meet and talk with a VERY famous author in Indonesia, Mr. Hermawan Kartajay. His most well-known works include “Marketing 3.0” and “Repositioning Asia: From Bubble to Sustainable Economy” co-authored with Philip Kotler, who needs no further introduction to business students world-wide.
He is a super inspiring and persuasive speaker. One of the main messages that he emphasized throughout the whole presentation was that bloggers were also marketeers, and among those the most important maketeers were Youth, Women and Netizen. “Men only think about money, sex and power; Seniors only think about the past while Youth think about the future”. If a senior man said so then probably we should believe him? ;-)
Spending only 2 days and 3 nights in Solo didn’t help me explore Indonesia much, but absolutely just enough to make me look forward to returning to this lovely country with its friendly people one day. So, see you again soon Indonesia. And now, just a shopaholic shot to show before saying goodbye.