Two and a half years ago, sitting on a beach at ‘The Sanctuary’ in Thailand over Christmas, the seed of this immensely exciting week was planted. We had a long discussion about how we felt we were ‘working for the holidays’ and our shared deep desire to get out of teaching to work for ourselves. As much as we loved the children we taught and other elements of our jobs, we desperately wanted to escape from the 5.30am mornings, the bureaucracy of the day-to-day, endless emails and meetings, the pressure to ‘be’ a certain way and the persistent exhaustion and stress that pervaded term-time.
Half jokingly, we chatted about the possibility of opening our own retreat so that we could then live a peaceful and self-directed life, in a way that enabled us to give back to others and build something we really believe in. As we talked over the following days, we kept coming back to the idea and it quickly became a plan! So we signed another contract to save the capital, moved in together, and spent countless evenings, days and weekends researching, planning, refining and manifesting! We became Reiki Masters, explored more of Asia and visited other retreats, learning much about what we want (and don’t want!) our own place to be, having a lot of fun along the way.
Now we are on Phu Quoc, our first port of call for wellness retreat locations. We have an official company seal, visas, various business permits, Vietnamese bank accounts and an excellent law firm behind us. We are also in contact with an estate agent who is going to help us search for the perfect setting and find somewhere to live and work from in the interim! Since arriving, despite planning a week of R’n’R before getting started on the property search, we have been to look at two (very contrasting!) potential apartments to live in for the coming months, a resort with a lease coming up for renewal (that is way too big for our purposes!) and explored some of the beaches and parts of the town Duong Dong.
So why Phu Quoc?
Vietnam was the initial decision. We adore Thailand but it is saturated with retreats, as is Bali. We enjoyed holidays in Myanmar and Cambodia, and as much as we loved these beautiful countries and their people, decided that the infrastructure was not developed enough for us just yet. Vietnam however, has the infrastructure, the beaches, the hospitable, warm people, is an increasingly popular destination… and if you run a ‘Google search’, you will find only a handful of holistic retreats! We have met many people on our travels who have searched in vain for a retreat in Vietnam.
Phu Quoc (Phú Quốc) is a Vietnamese island off the coast of Cambodia, renowned for its beaches, spectacular view over the Gulf of Thailand and pepper and fish-sauce production. Unlike the north of the country, it has a stable climate throughout the year with an average temperature of 27.7 Celsius, and only three months (July to September) of ‘low season’.
From a logistical perspective, it has a new international airport less than an hour’s flight from Saigon (Hồ Chi Minh City) and it is opening up to tourism with government incentives for visas and tax breaks unavailable in the rest of the country. Everyone we know who has been here has raved about it, so here we are - without an income or a home, at the beginning of a new chapter, prologue completed, with an unknown storyline ahead! We are however, officially entrepreneurs with a business, an idea that we are passionate about, and optimism for what lies ahead and gratitude for where we are, right here, in this moment.
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With gratitude from Vietnam,
“When you have balance in your life, work becomes an entirely different experience. There is a passion that moves you to a whole new level of fulfilment and gratitude, and that's when you can do your best... for yourself and for others.”