- Cambodia Retirement Village website launched
- Our last week in Cambodia: Action!
- Final weekend in Cambodia
It's been more than a week now that our team returned home, so this will most likely be the last update on the #ibmcsc Cambodia 1 Corporate Service Corps assignment (well, except for the team video if we manage to complete post-production :-))
Alright, I made it back to Vienna this morning already but still catching up with capturing thoughts and sorting through the gazillions of pictures we collectively took (yes, I know that I had a fair share), so here's what happened in week 3:
Week 4 of the #ibmcsc #cambodia assignment to be published within a week :-)
BD 120000AY42 firstname.lastname@example.org 454 Visits
Structure or process is often a concern in Cambodia. Time has another definition. This is true for many of the company we are now working for, but this is true for likely most if not all company in Cambodia, including some large international group. If this gives a lively impression and is relaxing to look at compared to our keep running western system, it also has some disadvantages, and might be often an important weakness for the future company growth. It could be quiet a cultural shock with some other cultural habits. We had a lot of fun during a discussion with Jose concerning this matter on comparing Cambodians and Dutch culture (Jose is Dutch by the way), providing some funny examples experienced on one side and the other side of the planet.
Knowing this situation, both Natali and I had a question mark however on how project management process training and decision analysis process training will work out, and most important of all, how it will be kept alive in future practices within Boddhi Tree. Both training went very well, and you can see people eagerness to learn, and most important understand how to put this back into practice. Of course, there are certainly ways we could have improved or changed this, or planned differently one specific part of the training.
Thanks to Christoph Goldenstern from KT, I was able to provide the full DA training and material to management staff at Boddhi Tree. That’s probably the first ever training of KT Decision Analysis in Cambodia. Not only the participation was much better than my higher expectation, but the application work selected would help straight away the management team in their hiring process.
Finally, I managed to get an appointment with one of the GM of one big International Group Hotel on the very last day of the assignment. The discussion was more than positive, and some next steps agreed. I will keep you update on the outcome. But this assignment could not have a better end than this one.
This is our last week in Cambodia, less than seven days until we leave this country, some colleagues for vacation in the region, others returning home to friends and family. We are in week four already, and I am still trying to catch up with saving my memories, not so much for posterity and you, my esteemed readership, but for myself. A few years from now I will want to bring back the good memories of a month here.
So without further ado, the long weekend in and around Siem Reap:
PS. Welcome to the latest Tisabamokkha bloggers, Natali and Renata!
BD 120000AY42 email@example.com 605 Visits
I witnessed something certainly common in a country where almost 90% of the people are the follower of Theravada Buddhism. While walking around 9am to the Warehouse shop to prepare the wine testing planned for the evening. 15 young Bonzes were queuing in front of a house, each of them with a sort of metal container. The youngest was probably around 10 years old. You can become a novice bonze at the age of 7. Becoming a monk is a matter of prestige for the family. It is also seen as the one of the only way out of small village provincial lifestyle. Buddhism is gradually growing up again to its glorious time…
In 1975, when Red Khmer took control of Cambodia, every monk was forcibly removed from their Buddhist temples to do like all other Cambodians manual work. Most temples and Buddhist documentation had been severely damaged or simply destroyed. Religion was forbidden, and Khmer nearly managed to erase Buddhism from Cambodia. It is estimated that between 50,000 and 60,000 Bonzes died or were killed during this time.
I invite you to read Klaus blog or Wolfgang blog on our trip to Angkor Wat. (Wat is a Buddhist temple by the way) Buddhism in Cambodia flourished during the Angkor Kingdom period; in 1181, starting of the reign of Jayavarman VII, the Buddhist Khmer king worked very hard to establish Buddhism in Cambodia. Buddhism became a state religion in the 13th century; Buddhism in Cambodia began long before that, some date mentioning as early as the 5th century.
A guardian opened the garage door; an old man put a table at the entrance. Two women arrived with 2 big casseroles, one full of rice, and the other one full of some sort of curry. I stand a couple of minutes to look at the scene. Time to go for everybody. The old man is putting back the table in the garage, and I continue my way to the Warehouse. When passing in front of the garage door, I then realize that this old man is the proud owner of… an Aston Martin Vantage. There are probably only one Lamborghini and one Aston Martin in all Cambodia, I saw both!
The final week in Cambodia is likely to be a busy one. Lot of training are being programmed for this last week, such as communication, project management and decision analysis. I also need to sit with Kim and discuss the HR tool. They were looking for a way to keep employee files in a digital format, and some sort of organized way to manage and document performance of the people, and what type of training they are all following. Looking at the requirements, including the fact that cost has to be null or very minimal, I looked at open source software. Paying a clouded solution per month and per employee for a HR tool is just not going to happen, specifically when you know that average salary is around 120$.
There are a lot of open source solutions for HR management. Many do offer a hosted clouded version, and all are relatively expensive for a small business like Boddhi Tree. It will not be a clouded solution, except if we manage to find a host partner in Cambodia, I have download some of them for testing, likely HR Orange is the one that will be adopted. We just need to figure out now where the piece of software will be hosted and some training and process on how this is going to work. One week for that might be a little short. It is likely that I will continue to help Boddhi Tree after this last week.
The most important piece that I would love to put in place before going away is to build up some foundation, establish some relationships between Boddhi Tree and some of the big players in hospitality business. The 2 main international hotels in Phnom Penh are Sofitel and Intercontinental. One of the identified issues is the tremendous lack of experience and knowledge of the hospitality industry. Little went in hospitality school, or has experience in the hospitality business. Many know only Boddhi Tree. All are very eager to learn. The idea will be to put a mentoring/shadowing in place, once or twice a Month for all Supervisors, and employees performing well and speaking English. Jose provide me the name of two GM of International Hotel groups, one is Dutch, the other one is French ;-) Let’s hope we manage to put a seed also there.
That’s all folks for this week.
PS: Counting the number of pictures the whole team took in Cambodia is amazing, thousands and thousands. It is likely that all of us have also hundreds of Skype snapshots. At least I do. Nearly everyday, I snapshot my family. Talking, playing, shouting, laughing, yawning, crying... It is funny how this is becoming as well a story book of the CSC Cambodia assignment. Here is a snapshot of those little moments:
Wow, we are in the third week of our CSC assignment in Cambodia already. I cannot believe how fast time is running over here. A couple more days and we will be on our way back home. I wanted to write a blog from the very start of this project and all the times something else happened. We are pretty much occupied over here. If it is not with our work than it is finding some place for dinner or try to arrange some time to stay in touch with family and friends.(Luxurious problems...)
So here are some of my thoughts about the time we have spent here – almost 3 weeks now. I have expected other things. Some of those hear-says and good tips a lot of people have told me before going here. All the usual things, starting with chaotic traffic, crowded streets, huge insects, un-safety country etc. etc. What I have found is an experience I am not sure on how to put in words. First of all I am touched of how much this land and its people needed to struggle and still do. Not only was it “by accident” involved in the Vietnam war, even worse over long years and not so long ago people have been killed by their own people. The Khmer Rouge have ruled over this country with torture, prosecution and arbitrariness that reminds me a lot of the German history. Our Cambodian IBM colleague has told us that 20 years ago Phnom Penh was almost empty. Today it is a buzzing city. I have never been in Bangkok but I would say in comparison to it, Phnom Penh is still very calm. But on other hand we have learned that since the end of the times of the Khmer Rouge the population has doubled. So hopefully this country is on its way to a better future. What I have seen so far form this country and the wonderful people over here it earns it very much.
With such a devastating past in the background I am still surprised how friendly and content the people are over here. We have some people in the street of our hotel that just have a kind of merchandise stall. Their entire life is in this stall. They live there, work there, and sleep there. When we come back to the hotel late in the night you can see them sleeping there. Still I have the impression that they are ok with their life. From a western perspective unbelievable. We complain so much about tiny things. We always want more, better things, etc.
What is still a challenge is how to deal with the begging older people, the landmine victims and the thousands of children. We have been told that we should not give money to them as they all have alternatives. Do they really have? I hope so. You just try to pass them with a smile and hope the best. On all points of interest for foreigners there are uncountable children trying to sell you something. Shall we really buy from them, so they will get food and money for school? The problem is that behind each kid stands another hand holding out for money and at the end the children will not see much. I am not sure what the right way is. It is the story with the fish and the fishing rod. I am very glad that here in Cambodia are so many NGOs that want to help people. I really do hope that our 4 weeks work in the very different NGOs we have been assigned to, will help at least a little bit. Me for sure I will support some NGOs after my time here and if it is only with money to give. Tomorrow we will visit a retirement village for older people that have no home anymore. I am afraid on one hand this will be really very tough. But as always there is a bit sweet in the sour – those people have a home. And this is due to an organization that is helping them. I have seen a lot of organizations that wants to help the people in this country. I hope they will become more every day.
Renata Lima 060000DUGJ firstname.lastname@example.org 407 Visits
Although I consider myself someone that usually interacts a lot with people, I faced a interesting challenge blogging. Well, here I am. Are you ready? (I am not!)
Today in breakfast we were discussing that we reached 75% of our working plan here - 3 weeks completed for 4 weeks planning - and I was surprise how many things happened in so short time.
1) Meet a new team with 9 members and their different lifes, experiences, cultures and languages.
2) Discover a new country with amazing culture and people
3) Be touched for this country challenges (war, mines, lack of education, poverty)
4) And finally learn with all of it.
I’m not sure if after we get the 100% status we will be able to say: Done, I changed something… My hope is that we can be a seed to start something that will grow with the days, months and years that will come… A seed for them and a seed for me.
BD 120000AY42 email@example.com 880 Visits
On our way back to Siem Reap, we stopped for natural human need. Looking at the number of foreigners in the area, it is likely to be one of the rare places where you can find decent toilets between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh... You have barely the time to stop the van engine that you are already surroundings by plenty of children faces, with hope in their eyes that you will drop 1 or 2 $. When opening the door, the chase is starting, unstoppable, inevitable. “You buy from me”, “where are you from” “Pineapple, your handsome” “1$ lady, ok 2 pineapple for 1$”. 6 or 7 children standing at door entrance, others surroundings the van and knocking on the window.
Every single kid look at each of us, one by one, trying to identify the best target, the one that will likely buy something, the one that will first give up on this continuous harassment, the one that will leave this magical 1 dollar bill. Going to the toilet, or trying to buy a bottle of water can’t be done without 3 or 4 kids surrounding lifeguards. “Ot Day” (No) is our song lyrics back to their “1$ please”.
Since we are in Cambodia, it is pointless to count the number of times we have been solicited by kids, by Tuk Tuk drivers and by motorbike riders. We can’t buy from everybody. It is sad to say, but for many of us, at one moment, the sadness we felt at the beginning is often turning now to indifference, or even worse, annoyance. Some of us became pretty good to mimic them, maybe a sort of stress relief, or simply having fun about an unusual situation not faced in our countries. It is very difficult when taking a step back not to wonder… “What are you doing, B, those kids have barely anything to live?”
The difficulty is to be able to cope with such a gap, such a difference. One side of Cambodia is a country of beauty; the other side of Cambodia is a country of ugliness, maybe should I say of darkness. This country’s history, culture, people provide what humanity can do best, and what humanity can do worse…
Cambodia is the cradle of one of the worst own people genocide in the last century. Khmer Red crimes against humanity are estimated most commonly between 1.4 million and 2.2 million, with perhaps half of those deaths being due to executions, and the rest from starvation or disease.
1$ is the daily average salary for more than 50% of the population. 120$ per month is considered to be a pretty good salary…
2.7 tonnes (!!!) of bombs were dropped in Cambodia since the 2nd world war. About 20% of those became UXO, Unexploded ordnance. UNICEF considers Cambodia to be the third most landmine country in the world, after Afghanistan and Angola. 63000 are the number of casualties since 1979, 30% of them will die during the explosion; the rest will face severe injuries, often amputation. In the UNICEF report, you can find this quote As one Khmer Rouge general put it, a land-mine is a perfect soldier: "Ever courageous, never sleeps, never misses."
The other side…
If most of the people are poor, all are growing their own food, or able to eat everyday and access or drink somehow clean water. Cambodia faced a severe harvest in 1975 after 3 decades of war. Nowadays, in none of the place we did visit or see could we see people facing severe malnutrition… Isn’t that good compared with some African countries that are facing right now one of the worse dry seasons since many decades, where almost 12 millions people will severely be impacted with malnutrition if no rain is coming in the next few months (about the total population of Cambodia).
It is difficult to imagine that about a decade ago, Phnom Penh was still a nearly empty capital. Although there are many things that can be said around corruption in Cambodia, NGO’s were very welcome in Cambodia, and contribute a lot on Cambodia very fast development. Cambodia is the 2nd growth rate country in Asia, just after China.
Most important, wherever you go, you can’t spend a single day without seeing kids jumping and playing everywhere. One of my favorite pictures is maybe giving you an idea of what you can see on a daily basis.
Although our way of living is abyssal, they make me think every single day at Naïs and Leire, my 2 and 4 years old daughter… Looking at the way parents are dealing with their kids, I have certainly more to learn from them than the other way round.
Two more things and I let you go.
To start with, one discussion at today lunch with Gilberto, another one month assignment in Boddhi Tree, from a different NGO; he will fly back this week end. He was wondering yesterday how much did he do, to what extent did he help Boddhi Tree, having a strong feeling that his contribution was in fact very little. He was very happy to learn that we did all have the same question mark in the team. He did end up with this Chinese tale. One old Chinese is having a horse, helping him greatly in multiple ways. One day, the horse disappeared. All the people in the village came to see the old man, telling how unlucky he was. The old man answered “Unlucky? Mmmmm. Let’s see what tomorrow will bring”. 2 days after, the horse is coming back, with 3 new young horses. Again, the entire village people go and congratulate the old man and how lucky he is. “Lucky? Mmmmm. Let’s see what tomorrow will bring”. The day after, the old man only children is riding one of the new horses, is falling down and is breaking his leg. The entire village is again coming with sadness to tell the old man how unlucky he is “Unlucky? Mmmmm. Let’s see what tomorrow will bring”. The day after, a war is starting between several villages. The military are coming in the old man village and asked all young men to join the army and fight the enemy. All young boys are going, except the one with the broken legs. Who knows what our contribution to our different assignments will bring tomorrow?
To end with, I have to share the horoscope of “sevendays”, a local newspaper from July 22 till today. Gemini:
“Do you know how to resolve an unresolved paradox?” Asked a Facebook friend named Pi. He answered his own question “You figure out the ´error´ in the initial premise or assumption”. And that’s my prescription for you this week, Gemini. Do not be tempted to bang your head against the wall, so as to shake loose a non-existent answer to the wrong question. Instead, stop yourself in the middle of your angst and think: “What would be a more productive way to formulate the riddle I need to untangle”
I haven’t seen anywhere else such a bizarre and funny horoscope, free will astrology. And although I’m not sure what this exactly means, it makes me laugh much more than our stupid, meaningless and empty western newspaper horoscope.
Sur ce, bonne nuit a tous.
BD 120000AY42 firstname.lastname@example.org 1,030 Visits
2 weeks already in Cambodia.
Another very intense week, from a lot of different perspective. After a wonderful Week End in Kep (http://www.flickr.com/groups/csc_cambodia/), back to work on Monday. At least Monday Morning... Since I did land in Phnom Penh, I'm having a terrible teeth ache. The first couple of days, pain killers did a good job, it was kind of gone. But it came back during the week end, so decision was made to pay a visit to the dentist. I can't spend another 2 weeks like that.
There is no Healthcare system in Cambodia, or very basic. Quality is often a concern in hospitals, if you have the bad idea to injure yourself, most likely you will end up pretty fast somewhere in a Thai or Vietnamese hospital. Strangely, if Cambodia has not a good reputation for their medical system and hospitals, it seems that Dentists have a very good reputation... At least that's the message we did receive from ABV. They did recommend to make the appointment at Pachem Dental Clinic. After a short Xray, the diagnostic is falling: The top down wisdom tooth is in very bad shape, and the only way to stop the pain is to remove it. The top one is not much better. Needless to say that having a tooth removed during my CSC assignment was not really something I had in mind before planning the trip. It took 2 minutes for the top one, and... 50 minutes for the down one... not very enjoyable moments. But one thing I can confirm, dentists indeed are doing a very good job in Phnom Penh. I did not have to use a single pain killer after the operation. After 2/3 days, it was pretty back to normal. The other thing I can confirm is that going to a dentist in Phnom Penh is exactly the same nightmare as going to a dentist in The Netherlands.
One of the project that we started last week is starting to take shape. Last week, I forgot to show you how the standard operating procedure was looking like, so here it is.
This 200 pages book is very complete. There is certainly ways to improve the content with time, but we did not expect such a complete documentation on how the job is expected to be done. There is a more fundamental concern with this document. With 80 % of the employee staff barely able to speak or read English, how can management make sure that employees do understand what is expected for every single task from this book. The answer came with the question. None of the employees did even have knowledge of this document, none of the supervisors did read the document, and management had only some ideas of what this document was about.
With this document not being used, it will be very difficult for management to set a basic performance system in place: Making sure employees understand what they have to do, what steps to follow, what quality level is expected, what time is expected for accomplishing a task etc.. all those information that will help to understand how the employee is performing, and how does the observed performance does compare with Boddhi Tree standard quality expectation.
Next to this concern, since Boddhi Tree is a social enterprise and is expected to grow in the future, they will hire new personal, people coming from underprivileged area, people with basic English skills and likely basic hotel and catering skills. If Boddhi Tree wants to keep services standard to "western" clients expectation level, they also need a documentation system in place powerful enough so new employee can be quickly and easily trained or can refer to some documentation at any time to verify how they are doing compared to what is expected.
One of the solution discussed with Kim was to start visual documentation, which will help to make sure quality standards are understood by employees and management, a starting point to put a performance system in place. Visual document operating procedures will also help new staff to be trained with a document that is easily understandable.
Natali built an example for House Keeping (making a bed) and Services department (dress a table), I built 2 examples for kitchen (cleaning a shell, and doing a Fish Amok) and for maintenance (fixing leaking water in the bathroom).
Tuesday 19, we presented the concept and the examples to the Management team first (including the supervisors), and to the Boddhi Tree employees. To management team, basic training on performance system were explained. All understood the value on having people working and building those visual documentation. It should help all team to set and agree on what are the expectations for a given task. We discussed also what was important to consider to make sure the project is working (providing time, providing material, having a good skilled computer person to help out to set up the final file, putting in place an award for best team performance etc...)
Kim then made the presentation to the Boddhi Tree departments employees in Khmer. Since English is not well understood, it did not make sense for us to do the presentation. Explaining why this is being done and setting clear expectation on how many documents has to be created per week was critical to the success of this project. Kim did a wonderful work on motivating the teams, and they all came with tasks that had to be documented first, since there were done on a daily basis, and not necessarily consistently done to quality standards required. To explain the why, we gave files from other departments. In the picture on the right, Housekeeping employees are looking files on how to do a Fish Amok and how to clean a shell in the kitchen. All felt confident that they could do the task, with little direction, and with the required quality standard, based on the file that was provided
The timeline provided to create the first document for each team was Friday 22, which was for both Natali and me pretty aggressive target. By Thursday 21, all departments did submit the first draft of their first documentation... With an impressive quality level ! Very detailed step by step, few comments for each pictures in English and Khmer !
That was a good way to end the week and get ready to visit Siem Reap with the team during the week end.
PS: I nearly forgot... What Lamborghini has to do with anything ? Cambodia is the world of Toyota and Lexus... (and of course Tuk Tuk and scooters). Except those cars, finding something else is pretty a challenge. A few BMW and Mercedes, some Range Rover here and there. So when we did end up on Tuesday the training around quality, documentation etc... I just wonder by what miracle those guys are managing to repair this car. Anyway, why would you want to drive a Lamborghini in Cambodia when 90% of the roads are in very bad shape...
More than a week has passed since I posted here before leaving home for an exciting month in Cambodia, so an update is in order.personal blog for more updates on our month in Cambodia, or find my Cambodia pictures on Facebook.
Here is what happened so far:
BD 120000AY42 email@example.com 737 Visits
Time is flying.
Already Monday July 18, it is one week we met our Clients for the first time !
For most of the team, it was as well the first free week end spent in Cambodia.
We met our Clients Monday 11 of July. The reception was at Boddhi Tree (BT). The meeting start with a very brief introduction of IBM and Cambodia by Bonal Sam. It was short, since IBM is having no office in Cambodia... And Bonal is the 1st IBMer in Cambodia. When IBM is doing its centennial Worldwide, IBM Cambodia is starting its 1st Year.
After Bonal introduction, all the team present themselves to all Clients, it was mostly informal, just to know a little bit about us, a little bit about our job, and a little bit about the Family... Then Clients did the same, and we end up all in a coffee break, talking about different things not job related, including what we had planned for the coming week end. Around 12, we all went to our different respective offices.
The Boddhi Tree (BT) office was a bit surprising, not what I would have expected at the beginning. In times of storm, you have to select strategically where to position your laptop to avoid some roof water leaking. Once you got aware of all those "non planned" situation and some more cultural habits, you just can sit and relax and have a chat with all BT members (the picture on the left is during Monday Lunch)... There are about 12 members in the office, 65 in total for the BT. The beginning was a little bit difficult for both side, not sure what foot to stand, and have to get used of these new faces. To have some fun and start to feel a bit more at ease, I took pictures to build our BT facebook. All have hopefully diminutive, which make a bit more easy to remember. I became Bert, or Mr B for most of them...
Monday and Tuesday was for most of us days to discuss and clarify exactly what the expectation was, what will be the deliverable and outcome. Clarification and prioritization. Things we thought that will be done at the beginning are taking another dimension when on site, and discussing with Staff and Management. For most teams except one, which already had to deliver a training on Tuesday, lot of rework had to be done to agree on how our competencies will mostly benefit their company during and beyond our visit.
At end of Tuesday, Natali and I had a decent agreement with Kim, Luz and Ms Poring (Management team) on what will we do, what will we start to work on first, how will this be done and by when. Taking into consideration the fact that BT is a Social Enterprise, where most people barely received education, how can Management help them to deliver basic hospitality skills, how do you help them to grow, how do you manage to keep quality standards... to the level of "western foreigners" requirements. 2 main projects were started on Wednesday, one around documentation of standard operating procedure, one around redesigning a specific service area. The first project will be the case study to deliver the training around Human Resource and Performance System, the second one will help to deliver fundamentals of project management. During the building of case studies, we explain the people why we do it like this instead of another way, why it is important and how it will help to make the case better (and convince the CEO). So learning by practicing. We hope that by the time we deliver the training, people understand better those fundamentals concept.
Our journey is typically starting at 7.30am, to end up with Kim between 5pm and 6pm. We had to push a little bit to meet Kim on a daily basis the fist couple of days. By the end of the week and the first little short wins results visible, Kim wanted to make sure we meet everyday around 5pm to debrief on the work that was done, and answer his question marks on how to do this, how to make a difference, tips on how to look on this situation and so on. After one week, we have some discussion I could not have hope to have by end of the Month.
Then, it is time for IBM and ABV team debrief. This first week, it took about an hour every day. Sharing the experience is a time that everybody in the team is really liking. It helps to share and understand what is going on with other assignments, the work that is done, the nice things done by our Company, but also the difficulties they are facing. ABV is helping a lot with their knowledge of the Cambodia situation and their network. After the debriefing, another and last debriefing, but this time for dinner. The first week, and nearly all evening, the full team eat together with ABV. Since I have been nearly automatically designed as the "team tour operator", I did bring them in a lot of different places around Phnom Penh. Romdeng, Friends are the most famous ones... But we did also went to a french restaurant, where part of our team decide to try nearly all desserts in the menu (I have to say the quality of those desserts was absolutely unbelievable). The reason why I do not mention the restaurant is that Wolfgang and myself decided to eat... a steak tartare. And of course had to face the day after immediate consequences. It is like playing lottery, except that in this case, you have very little chance that nothing is happening.
In any case, all of us love Phnom Penh. All the expat I met so far are as well in love with PP and Cambodia. There are indeed millions of good reason to fall in love. Next to what we experienced this week during and out of our work, the first week end trip is about to come. Saturday 9am, destination Kep. But I will keep you posted later on this.
PS: By the way, blogging everyday is not going to happen, same for posting pictures, I have hard time already to skype with my ladies...
BD 120000AY42 firstname.lastname@example.org 865 Visits
Already Monday... Before meeting all the ABV team and IBM team on Saturday, I had still some time to discover Phnom Penh on Friday.
Let's start with one of the most strangest culinary dish I had to experience... Spider. And not a small one, but a nice lovely Tarentula
The purpose was not to eat some of those nice little things at the beginning. but go to Romdeng restaurant, since it is being runned by Friends International NGO. http://friends-international.org/wherewework/cambodia-detail.asp?mainmenu=wherewework&page=cambodia
The idea is pretty simple, it is a training restaurant runned by former street children and their teachers.You have teacher staff and student staff in the kitchen and for the service, students are being helped on spot when assisting the Client, or preparing a dish. One thing to understand is that most of them have little studies, and English speaking can be as hard as speaking Cambodians for us, so they have to deal with this and learning the job at the same time, all directly with Clients. I'm just so impressed by their willing of learning and their kindness. This is how it looks in the kitchen. Pretty busy isn't it ?
The dinner was just beautiful. It was decided, a good place for the team to go from time to time, to experience typical Cambodian food.The full team went in Romdeng on Sunday, I'm pretty sure they will provide their perspective.
The opening dinner on Saturday was in Boddhi Tree Aram
Boddhi Tree, where we are staying and the assignment both Natali and I will work for, is also a social enterprise, helping children from unprivileged background to learn hospitality industry, one of the fastest growing segment of Cambodia.
There again, the level of food that was provided is difficult to provide in words. The level of flavors that the chef and his team managed to bring in the buffet was exceptional. The quality of the products selected, and the way the dishes were assembled is astonishing.
One word that came often before coming to Cambodia was that the quality standard are very different with western countries, I would love to have many places like this in western regions with such smiling welcome and such food quality (not even talking about price !). So when you know where those kids are coming from...
Well, that's it. After sending about a year and half my first application, a couple of months of preparation and an endless fly, I put my first foot in Phnom Penh.
I have posted the first 3 pictures in flickr with some descriptions... Some in french, specifically for the killing field and the S21 prison. Difficult to express the feeling, not using your native language.
I will try to keep on posting 3 to 4 pictures per day if possible, on a regular basis for sure. Around 3 themes for now: People, Culture/History and... Food of course.
Saturday, most of us will finally meet. I just heard from Ira that Baskar is still waiting for his visa... His flight is tomorrow, finger crossed.
Bertrand #ibmcsc Cambodia
Destination: Phnom Penh
Humming Kim Wilde’s “Cambodia” song, I am getting ready for a special trip. In a few hours, I will leave for my assignment in Phnom Penh under the umbrella of the IBM Corporate Service Corps (CSC) program. A team of nine people from around the globe, with diverse professional experience, will come together in the capital of the Kingdom of Cambodia (ព្រះរាជាណាចក្រកម្ពុជា in Khmer) for a month and work with local businesses and NGOs on business, technology and society challenges.
Read more on my personal blog.
I'm taking the plane tomorrow. All is set, and for the first time for many years, I managed to clean completely my Notes Inbox !
Now it is time to think about packaging. What to take did puzzle me quiet a little. I decided finally to only take the survival kit, basically the minimum to keep on going for a couple of days. So my suitcase will nearly be empty, I will be buying all the necessary things to dress in Phomh Penh. And I will leave all that stuff when i go away from Phnomh Penh, I suspect that this make a few people happy...
Why do I even take a suitcase sort of came in my mind. I'm sure there will be a lot of Khmers happy to sell me nice ones for only few dollars. If I don't take many clothes, my suitcase will still be full of little souvenirs from NL, such as painted Delft blue clogs, gouda, and the unavoidable stroopwafels...
I will join with all those nice blue things few french appetizers... After all, we need to team celebrate on Sunday a little bit our assignment in Cambodia.
Next posting will be most likely in Cambodia. Safe travel !