Friday, July 8, 2011


Changing teams

Joining the Corporate Service Corps #ibmcsc means working with a new team for the month. I was ready to leave home and start my journey to Phnom Penh, but I reckoned without my host.

That last team meeting in Vienna was at the usual time on Thursday morning (except that I was late since packing had taken longer than planned and schlepping the suitcase and two bags to the office slowed me down further, but I am digressing). Instead of the usual breakfast rolls and business talk, there was a delicious cake, home-made by Sabine, champagne, and a greeting card from the team wishing me a safe trip and a great experience, what a nice surprise! Thank you team, that was really very nice.

In the evening I left for the airport directly from the office. The flight from Vienna was overbooked, and the compensation which the airlined offered for voluntarily choosing a later flight wasn’t all that attractive, especially since the alternate choice wasn’t even a direct flight, on the other hand I had never been to Mumbai, not that I seriously considered taking an alternate flight, but I am digressing again. Surprisingly, I got a good night’s sleep on the plane, only interrupted by a late dinner and an early breakfast.

The stopover in Bangkok was a great opportunity to watch shopkeepers doing the sompeas greeting, which is also used in Cambodia. Note to self: it would be helpful to not have the hands full with bags, tickets and other stuff for sompeas. I hope a friendly nod as the only response I was capable of wasn’t considered impolite.

At the airport in Bangkok I also met the first members of our team; Natali and Daniela were waiting for the same flight and recognized me from my picture. We had another yummy dinner on the short flight to Phnom Penh, followed by a smooth flow through the visa, immigration and customs checkpoints. Too bad we didn’t get a Tuk Tuk like Bertrand did the other day, just are regular car which safely brought us to our hotel, the Boddhi Tree, where we met Patricia, Renata and Marisol.

After spending three months on weekly calls and exchanging profiles, talking about professional experience, hobbies, and plans for the stay in Cambodia, it was great to finally meet in person, and it felt like we were good friends who had known each other for a long time already.

Tomorrow we will meet the rest of the team and also the folks from Australian Business Volunteers. Time for some rest, one more lychee from the fruit platter and then: រាត្រីសូស្គី!

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I knew you'd made it safely when I saw your Google+ activity, but I had had no idea you were going to be surprised with cake (nor that there was a card to sign!) so I'm quite sad that I missed the opportunity to partake in the send-off!
By the way, I think most of your readers will need to tweak their browser character settings to see the Khmer script; fallbacks appear for me on both Safari and Firefox.
It's actually worse than that, as far as I know Windows XP does not recognize the Khmer Unicode codepoints; as part of the preparation I installed Khmer language and keyboard support so things render correctly, not that I could read the language anyway.

PS. រាត្រីសូស្គី means Good night.
Since I wanted to see more than those lovely fallback squares, I found this page with instructions for XP and Vista: - but I use OSX for my personal online activities so it didn't solve my immediate problem.

However, I did find a site that does mainly show the script for me (fallbacks still appear on the browser title/tab and in the view source):

In any case, おやすみなさい (おやすみなさい) :)
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