Written by: Fay Yu, Paolo Casumbal, James Greff, Torie Dalton and Tyson Johnson
Week 0 – SingularityU Exponential Manufacturing + Chiang Mai
A few of our team members arrived a week ahead of time to attend the SingularityU Exponential Manufacturing Conference in Bangkok. Our client, Ananda Development, helped with this year’s conference focused around exponential technologies in the manufacturing space. We are grateful to have been invited as volunteers, giving us the opportunity to be in close proximity with all of the interesting speakers including Mark Post (co-founder, MosaMeat), Andres De Leon (COO, Hyperloop), and Samantha Radocchia (co-founder, Chronicled). Over the course of two days, we were able to learn about emerging technologies, new research, and startup ideas in a variety of industries.
In preparation for the upcoming IBD start, we spent the weekend relaxing in Chiang Mai. We visited the Elephant Nature Park and spent most of our first day there. This park rescues elephants that have been forced into circuses, have been forced to work for logging companies, or have been injured. During this weekend, we also got our first exposure to the role religion plays in Thailand. Chiang Mai is home to many beautiful temples and we pushed through the triple digit temperatures to visit many of them. Thailand is a largely Buddhist country, and our weekend coincided with Vesak – a national holiday celebrating the birth, enlightenment, and death of Buddha. We were unaware that this would mean that establishments were banned from selling alcohol and many social establishments were closed. We made the best of it and left with fond memories of this ancient city.
Week 1 – A Warm Ananda Welcome + Krabi
This was our first week at the Ananda office. The team met Lloyd, our main contact for our project, and the wonderful team he leads. We learned a lot about Thai business culture and also got a better understanding of what the company is working on and how they are aiming to grow in the future. The office itself reminded us of the startup and tech offices found throughout the Bay Area. One day was spent touring the different properties that Ananda owns or developed. As one of the top condo builders in Thailand, we were able to learn about Ananda’s various luxury townhomes and condo complexes, and our day navigating Bangkok exposed us to the headaches of its traffic.
On Friday afternoon, we left for Krabi where our island hopping tour gave us the opportunity to explore beaches, go on hikes, and see some monkeys. We visited the famed Railay Beach, which is only accessible by boat. There we took on a steep hike and were rewarded with a beautiful view overlooking the beach. Our remaining time was spent out in the warm waters of Southern Thailand.
Week 2 – Exploring Bangkok + Siem Reap
Back in Bangkok, we continued to work on our IBD project. The team settled into a routine of game-planning at the start of the day, working either as a group or independently in the various cool workspaces around the open office, eating the Ananda-provided lunch, and heading out around 5 PM, often after a friendly debrief with Lloyd. In the evenings, we explored all of the great sights and food that Bangkok has to offer – from the street-food in Chinatown to gourmet burgers in Thong Lor – and of course, its’ famous nightlife. We were also able to visit the Grand Palace and watch a cabaret show – that is until the power went out throughout the entire neighborhood.
Over the weekend, we met with the Cambodia team in Siem Reap. The main attraction in Siem Reap is the ancient temple called Angkor Wat. We visited Angkor Wat at 5 AM in the morning in order to watch the sunrise. Despite not seeing the sunrise due to cloud cover, we took advantage of the minimal crowd and stayed around that morning to walk around the grounds. It’s an incredible complex and it still serves as a Buddhist religious site. Throughout the weekend we visited other incredible sites of the ancient city of Angkor, including Ta Prohm, famous for the huge trees woven throughout its ruins.
Week 3 – Thailand From a Different Perspective
The last Monday was a holiday celebrating the newly coronated Queen’s birthday. One of Lloyd’s team members, Pang, was so kind as to take us under her wing for the day. We started off by visiting her uncle’s home in the suburbs of Bangkok and got to see his impressive prayer room. We learned that many Thai homes have a prayer room where there are both Buddhist and Hindu relics. Afterwards, we ate lunch at a restaurant outside of the city frequented by Thais and then went to Phutta Monthon where we fed fish with local park goers. We finished the day at Pang’s house where her helpers prepared fresh coconut and other local fruits for us to enjoy.
After seeing so much of Bangkok from a tourist’s point of view, it was refreshing to spend a day with a local. Thank you, Pang and Kong! Our team had an incredible time in Bangkok, where we were warmly received by the Ananda team (thank you Darrell, Shawn, Frankie, and Sam!). We’d be remiss not to once more give a huge shout out to Lloyd, who was an incredible, attentive, and kind host!