Friday, April 7, 2023

EARCOS conference 2023, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

Part of a series: Asia, March 2023:

After seven days of speaking (within which my record was seven times in one day) at the Taipei American School, I flew to Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, which has a much different vibe than the other part of Malaysia I’d visited, Kuala Lumpur. KL is urban (though has a natural side). KK is coastal (though likely has a downtown of some kind).

Not that speaking is ever a grind for me, but it felt even less like work in this setting: a resort in a tropical paradise on the South China Sea. (“Coastal” undersold it.)

view from my room

I was one of two children’s authors speaking at a conference called EARCOS (East Asia Regional Council of Schools), the other being the epically kind Susan Tan.

I was originally scheduled for 2021—but COVID. So I was (conditionally) rescheduled for 2022—but still COVID. 

My appearances were spread over two days, consisting of two talks and a screening of Batman & Bill in a huge banquet hall, after which I did a short Q&A.

The morning before my first talk, I puttered around the harbor.

Both afternoons after my commitments, I changed into shorts and got a smoothie at the pool (no line but no rush—took about 20 minutes). The second evening, I watched the sunset over the ocean from the small beach in the “backyard” of the hotel.

Possibly the best photo I took over my three weeks in Asia:

One friend commented that the moon and what looks like a star are close to forming the crescent and star symbol of Islam. (Malaysia is a Muslim country.) 

But it is not a star. The same friend noted the possible “occultation,” when the move passes in front of another celestrial bodyin this case, Venus.

One of my favorite aspects of Malaysia was how grateful locals are when you say “thank you” in Malay (“terima kasih”). 

Terima kasih again to Ed Greene and Kristine De Castro for the invitation and for throwing a great conference/party.

Oh, the reason I couldn’t say for sure if Kota Kinabalu has a developed downtown is because I did not leave the resort for my three days there—with one exception.

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