How it started
It all started in late 2012, when a few open-source software hackers from Europe decided to spend the next January together on the same beach in Vietnam. Since we had been nomading around for a while already at the time, and we were collaborating on some FOSS projects anyway, it seemed like a good idea not just to hang out on the same island after New Year’s, but to also invite other like-minded people to enjoy each others’ company and exchange knowledge and ideas.
Thus, Hacker Beach was born.
The initial website was not much more than a beautiful aerial photograph of an island, the date of January 2013, and a logo created by the soon-to-be founder of the Open Source Design project Jan C. Borchardt. The same logo that we still use today. On January 3, we then published the first blog post to properly announce the gathering. You can still read it today, because cool URIs don’t change.
We had no idea if anyone outside the initial group of conspirators would really show up on Phú Quốc, and if so, who or how many. But we did invite some friends, FOSS collaborators, and acquaintances directly, which certainly contributed to what happened next.
The first week of January was rather calm, with only two of us having had arrived so far, enjoying the beautiful surroundings from a nicely run bungalow guest house, situated on the quiet end of the longest beach on the island. But soon enough new hackers would arrive almost every day. By the middle of the month we ran out of available bungalows and beds at the first place, so people branched out to other places.
In the end, more than 20 people showed up at Hacker Beach #1, and spent their time working on their projects, exchanging ideas and experiences, socializing, and exploring the island. Which kicked off a tradition that we still cultivate today.
How it continued
Since the first gathering in Vietnam, we went around the globe to many places that are not widely known, yet each of them interesting and inspiring in their own ways. We even added an unwritten rule about subsequent episodes having to take place in a different part of the world, so it would neither get boring nor too easy for people from just one part of the world to participate.
Every episode was a unique experience, owing to the differences between landscapes, cultures, languages, local communities, and people showing up. Even if you never end up joining Hacker Beach, we can highly recommend our past destinations for your own travels:
|2013||Phú Quốc||🇻🇳 Vietnam|
|2014||Lamu Island||🇰🇪 Kenya|
|2018||Petite Côte||🇸🇳 Sénégal|
|2021||No official destination||–|
|2022||La Libertad||🇸🇻 El Salvador|
The C-word episode
In 2021, the unthinkable finally happened. We we unable to announce an official location for Hacker Beach #10, as our crowd usually gathers from countries around the globe, and there was simply no way to overcome travel restrictions that January in a way that everyone could participate. However, since Hacker Beach is just people gathering somewhere, and some of us still met up at a couple of beaches, we refused to stop counting episodes. So here we are now, announcing destination #10 for episode #11.
Episode #11: Langkawi, Malaysia
For your convenience, here’s some basic info in case you’re interested in coming over. (There might be another post with some more info next week.)
Similar to the rest of the ASEAN countries, the Malaysian government has dropped all health-related entry requirements, with very few exceptions. Most travelers also do not need to apply for a visa beforehand, and most visitors are allowed to stay in the country for up to 90 consecutive days. Please check the government’s website for visa requirements by country.
Most budget accommodation is located on the Pantai Cenang beach. You should be able to find rooms for less than $30/night there (and dorm rooms for much cheaper, of course). As always, booking online is more expensive and won’t get you the best deals. If you want to splurge, you can find nice boutique hotels and resorts all around the island.
Hint: If you want to stay close to other Hacker Beach people, be sure to drop by one of our chat rooms in January.
Beware of jellyfish and mosquitos. Wear a rash guard to protect from the former, and get some DEET spray for the latter. Also, a yellow-fever vaccination (once in a lifetime) is never a bad idea when traveling to tropical countries with mosquitos.
“ATMs are available at the Langkawi Airport, at Langkawi Parade Shopping Complex, next to Underwater World at Pantai Cenang and at Cenang Mall.”
Tip: There are enough ATMs that do not charge you an extra fee for withdrawals, so find a different one if it does. Also, in case it asks you to convert the currency for you, always decline! Your bank’s bad exchange rate will still be better than whatever the ATM will apply.
The electricity outlets in Malaysia are Type G (UK/British). You can buy cheap plastic adapters for most other plugs locally, or bring your own.
Tip: You can also use Type C plugs without an adapter if you press down the safety pin in the top hole of the socket. (A 3.5mm headphone jack is an excellent tool for doing that for example.)
See you on the beach!