The Gratitude Vietnam Retreat Venue Blog

Serendipitous Meetings, Brining and Reflection!

Dear Friends.


It’s been another busy couple of weeks in Hoi An – weeks of consolidation, serendipitous occurrences and simple pleasures!


Hannah found a message on Facebook offering a free photography morning for a group of 2-3 people, and after a little research, we decided to sign up as having been glued to our computers (still researching recipes and writing retreat materials!), thought it would be great to get out for the morning and learn something new. The evening before, the forecast was terrible, and with a lot of flooding still in the area, we were pretty convinced it wasn’t going to happen.


To our surprise, we woke up to a blue sky and no water on the road, so we slightly reluctantly set off on our bikes to ‘The Hill Station’ where we chatted over coffee (as it begun to pour outside), with our lovely Australian professional photographer and teacher for the morning, who as it turned out, had also spent many years as a Reiki practitioner! Photographing the inside of the building was, in itself, hugely enjoyable. It’s amazing how as you ease into a mindset of looking for more unusual objects to photograph, everything becomes interesting and potentially beautiful.

After around half an hour, another couple joined us – we all politely said “Hi,” and carried on with our photography, absorbed in the task at hand, and as the sun appeared, we headed out into Hoi An, wandering, exploring, taking photographs and chatting.


There are nearly 1000 expats in Hoi An. It just so happened, that this lovely couple have not only lived in ‘Coco Villa’, the house we are in now, but also run retreats in the area, and now live just down the road from us! Kerstin is a yoga teacher and creative writer, whilst Nigel is a musician and sound bowl healer. Kerstin and Nigel could not have been more warm and encouraging about our plans, and the prospect of working together is a truly exciting one! We’ll be running a ‘feature blog’ on Kerstin in the weeks to come, and very much look forward to chatting more over coffee!



Last night we went to a beautiful sound bowl meditation at Nomad Yoga, led by Kerstin (with her friend Kerstin on the bowls!), to celebrate the Winter Solstice, full moon and the end of 2018. The past months, it has really felt as though the Universe is ‘on our side’ as these seemingly ‘random’ or ‘coincidental’ meetings, have been happening frequently. Stopping to reflect for a short while during the final ‘gratitude meditation’, it was wonderful to appreciate 2018 in its entirety.


It might feel to us that we are standing still as we wait to sign a property contract, however, we have been in contact with some of our favourite practitioners from around the world, some of whom have also been serendipitous meetings!


The response has been amazing, including one message that said “Wow! The universe must be listening as I was just expressing the desire to a friend to do Mindful Cooking retreats overseas in 2019! That’s amazing! I love Vietnam!”… So the calendar of events, whilst still vague, is forming and growing, we’ve booked onto a course with our fabulous friend Fi, to begin our TRE training in February (back at The Sanctuary, where this journey really began!), and I am going to Chiang Mai in January to source and learn how to heal with Tibetan singing bowls, with a practitioner we met in Hong Kong, who knew another friend from America! Everything is coming together in the way it is meant to, even if we can’t fully comprehend what that looks like at this moment in time!



On a completely different note, if you are not ‘brining’ your proteins, you MUST start now! Hannah is trialling recipes, and truly, the simple act of soaking chicken in salt water for a few hours before cooking has an incredible impact on its succulency, flavour, and texture! Apparently brining proteins before cooking alters the enzymes, removes the ‘white gunk’ from salmon and tenderises meat beautifully. Different proteins vary in the ratio of salt and time needed, but a quick internet search will provide you with all the information you need to revolutionise your plate!


Changing track again, we have been awakened to one of the cultural differences between Europe and Vietnam. Vietnam is a place of family, community and ‘other’ in preference to ‘self’. I was clearing the pathway outside of our house to remove the ‘flip-flop getting stuck in the mud’ scenario that was becoming a minor daily annoyance. A few minutes in, our lovely neighbour appeared with a broom, and started to sweep the pine cones from the porch. We worked together with smiles and thanks until the job was done, and she vanished again. A couple of days later, I opened the door to find her sitting on our steps with a friend and some fresh coconuts – so we whiled away an hour or so as she showed me how to use a machete, and we savoured the coconut water and delicious flesh.



How is it that we have moved so far away from a sense of community that it does not occur to us to pop over and help a neighbour out with a small task? A ‘random act of kindness’ in the West would generally be received with skepticism, and popping over with a small gift ‘overt curiosity’ and the assumption that said person is a busybody. I hope that with time here, my own mindset will shift to one of community, and that it will become a natural process to help out, without concern as to how it will be interpreted!


Anyhow, this has been a longer than normal and slightly meandering blog, so apologies! We wish you all a wonderful Christmas, however you are celebrating! (And don’t forget to brine!)


With heartfelt love, warmth and gratitude from Vietnam,


“What you think, you create. What you feel, you attract. What you imagine, you become.” Anonymous

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