My Incredible story about Ultimate Dreamlife Abroad
In 2001, in the midst of a trip around the round, I came through Luang Prabang which was originally supposed to be a 2-day stay. What took place in the days following my arrival changed the course of my destiny and Luang Prabang, Laos became an important part of my life.
From the first moment I arrived, I fell in love with the beauty of this magical place. This was the Asia I was dreaming of since I was a child.
The first day, walking through the streets of the town, a novice monk stopped me on the corner of a street and asked me if I wanted to come and teach an English class. Of course, I did.
I followed him and loved teaching the class. The kids mostly young teenagers were eager to learn. I finally felt I was doing something meaningful during my trip. Traveling from place to place had left me not feeling as fulfilled as expected.
The routine of setting my backpack down for a few days, walking around the place, trying to connect with the locals to only leave a few days later without any impact or significance was leaving me feeling empty after six months on the road. I needed more. I wanted more. I wanted to experience the world in a deeper, more meaningful way.
The immediate connection I felt to Luang Prabang was resonating. Wanting to unload my bags of all the books I had been carrying in the last few weeks, I went to look for a bookshop, only to realize that there were none. I couldn’t believe it since I arrived this town felt to me like I novel. Only in books, I had seen such magical place. It felt like I stepped back in time.
Suddenly struck by inspiration, I wondered, what if I could live here? What if I opened one of those bookshops where people can unite through their love of books? How does a foreigner manage to settle in a place like this? So many questions. The Universe was listening. Life prevailed. It delivered all the answers I needed at a velocity that is quite uncommon in this country.
One of the unique things about Laos, is without a doubt, the concept of time. It is hard to describe, but when you feel it, it is different from anywhere on Earth. Time stands still. Speed is not usually part of that. So it is quite surprising to think, that from my 2-day plan, a week later, everything had fallen into place.
It was settled, I was going to stay and opened a bookshop in Luang Prabang, Laos. L’Étranger, Books & Tea opened less than two months later. But the story doesn’t end there, of course. That same year, passing through my hometown in Canada for a few days, I met my partner Simon, and in a mere few days, we decided to start a life together. My story became our story.
In 2002, we opened hive which was for almost ten years, the most popular bar in town. We had memorable years at the hive. With its success, we wanted to give back to the community and to help promote and develop high-quality handmade products by Lao people. Kopnoi, Made in Laos opened in 2005.
In 2008, my mother, Celine became a partner and moved here permanently. By then, we had two little ones who joined us on our journey; Milan and Jaz. in 2010, when we decided to relocate with the kids to Canada. My Mom, who now everyone calls Metao (grandma in Laotian) graciously took over the businesses.
My Mom loves the life she has made for herself here. But with each passing year, the kids growing fast and all of us not getting any younger. It has become harder to be apart as a family.
Even though, through the years, we have managed to keep it running successfully, while being away for extended periods of time. We have known for a while that the day would come when we would have to make a decision about what is next for L’Étranger, Books & Tea and our lives in Laos. And this moment has come.
Talks of sale have come and go in the last few years, but deep down in our hearts, it is not something that we have foreseen as possible. We have never been able to move forward with that idea. How can you sell a piece of your home, a piece of your heart?
The story of L’Étranger, Books & Tea in Luang Prabang is so unique and magical to all of us that it is impossible to put a price on that. In July 2016, when we heard the story of the Australian family, who raffled their resort. The story resonated deep and felt like this was for us too but with one difference, We, not luck, have to choose who would continue this incredible adventure.
This is how our story continues. As destiny played a huge part in this important chapter of our lives, we want it to play a role in us, closing it. That is why, we are now looking for the new owner of L’Étranger, Books & Tea, and Kopnoi Gallery.
As I’m writing those words, the sound of the monks hitting the gong at a nearby temple resonates through the early morning. A rush of emotion fills my heart to think that it is true, the end is near.
I feel excited for the winner of the competition who will get the chance to experience this magical life. It is our way to say thank you to life for giving us such an incredible experience. We can’t wait to pass it on to someone else and welcome them to our ultimate dream life.