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A path out of the ordinary

‘’Don’t wait for the perfect moment. Take the moment and make it perfect.’’

Aryn Kyle

In my early twenties I did like many my age, I graduated from university, and I starting preparing the spread of my wings. For most, this would mean embarking on their career. However, in my last year of university, I saw a flyer on my way to one of my classes that said “Make money and travel the world”.  I thought, yes yes yes, this is what I want to do with my life!

I mentioned this to my then boyfriend and he was keen to embark on this whirlwind journey with me!  We took a TESOL course in order to earn a certificate to teach English as a second language and we booked a one-way ticket to Taiwan! In January 2002, we flew to Taiwan to pursue my dream of “travelling the world while earning money”. 

After the initial shock, which lasted a couple of months, I fell completely in love with my life in Taiwan. I didn’t know how long I’d stay, but I ended up exploring all of Taiwan and being close to many other amazing Asian countries. This proximity allowed me to visit Thailand, Hong Kong, Japan, and Palau, where I experienced some of the most incredible scuba diving in the world!

After having lived in Taiwan for 1.5 years, we decided it was time to move on and we embarked on a one-year backpacking journey across southeast Asia and other parts of Asia.  We started in Bali, visited most of the Indonesian islands east, all the way to Flores, then went west to Java and Sumatra.  We made our way to Malaysia, Singapore, Borneo, Brunei, Thailand, Burma (Myanmar), Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Bangladesh (for a day!), Nepal, Tibet and China!  A trip of a lifetime! 

Throughout my journey, I encountered a diverse array of travelers. Among them were backpackers, as well as families with small children or teenagers. Some families were embarking on trips lasting a few weeks, others for a few months, and some even for a year, all with the purpose of exposing their children to the world and fostering a life enriched with diverse cultures, off the conventional path.

Witnessing this, I couldn’t help but marvel at the incredible gifts these families were providing for their children. It sparked a hope within me that I might one day offer my own children such an experience.

In all, I stayed 2.5 years in Asia. This tranformative journey helped bring me on my life’s path of working in the mind-body industry.  It also brought me to Montreal Quebec where I met my future husband, Maxime. 

Fast forward 20 years and I’ve landed in Bangkok once again – me plus 3 – my husband Maxime and our two daughters, Éléa, 11, and Anaëlle 9. All was familiar yet unfamiliar.  I noticed there were less Tuk-Tuks, more cell phones, less bargaining, a tamer Khao San Road and an energy that just didn’t seem as intense as back in the day…or was it me who didn’t have the same intensity as I did back in my early twenties? Hmmm….??

Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand

Amidst this bustling scenery of Wat (Temple) Pho, Wat Arun, Emerald Buddha Temple, Wat Phra Kaew and Grand Palace, what struck me most was the stark contrast between the dilapidated houses juxtaposed against the opulent temples.

After maximizing our 3 day Bangkok visit, we hopped on a plane to Krabi for our next adventure around the southern Thai beaches!

Ao Nang, Krabi, was a vibrant town with a long beach, and a good stepping off point to head to all the surrounding pristine beaches and islands.  We did lots of walking and exploration of the nearby beaches and then we went to the famous Railey beach – a favourite amongst rock climbers for its climbable karst rock formations as well as the amazing Phra Nang beach with the Princess Cave – which houses hundreds of phallic statues placed there by fishermen as good luck on their fishing runs.  The girls didn’t question what these long wooden objects were and why there were so many in the cave, they were more focused on the huge lizard that was slowly slithering around!  Later at the night market though, Anaëlle picked up a key chain and asked what it was.  Well, um, that, is um, a penis.  Ewwww….why??  I didn’t quite have a logical answer but there were many at the souvenir kiosks and up until then we were able to avoid the topic.  We then proceeded to explain about the Princess Cave (which somehow seemed more logical) but I couldn’t quite rationalize the random penis key chains!  One of those parenting moments that will still make me chuckle years down the road.  Ha!

After a few days of relaxing and lounging by the pool (we caught Covid on the plane and didn’t know it until 5 days into our trip!), we booked a boat trip to Koh Phi Phi and some surrounding islands (Koh Phi Phi was severely damaged during the 2004 Tsunami).  We did some snorkeling, visited Bamboo island with its crystal clear waters and we stopped at Koh Phi Phi Don – an island I would now consider as a hectic boat parking and just a wild partying island!

We then continued on to the famous Maya Bay – site of the movie “The Beach”.  It was absolutely stunning! The softest, most powdery white sand beach, the most turquoise calm clear water and these spectacular limestone rocks jutting out of the sea, wrapping us up into this lagoon type surrounding. It still is one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen. You could just imagine how Leo and his friends felt like in the movie!

Maya Bay “The Beach”, Thailand

When we moved onto Klong Muang, Krabi, another beach town, every morning we were blessed with divine views of the sea.  I woke up doing my pilates, yoga, Brain-Gym and Hypopressives while looking out at the sea. 

As I was greeted with this majestic view, I awoke with a feeling of gratitude for my life.  For this path I dreamed of and created. For all the steps I took that lead us to this moment.  At times I had to pinch myself to make sure it was real! Being by the sea, my breathe changed, my mind calmed, and my spirit was renewed.

I kept thinking of one of my favourite quotes by Omar Khayyam “Be happy for this moment, this moment is your life”.  I was certainly happy for this moment!!

Our adventure then took us to northern Thailand in Chiang Mai where we indulged at the many markets, fed elephants, took a Thai cooking class, spoiled ourselves with massages and enjoyed many other activities in this cultural city surrounded by mountains. From there we took a long sweaty train ride back to Bangkok to transition to Siem Reap, Cambodia.  There we relished at the workmanship of the Cambodians in the Angkor era.  The ruins of this ancient city, which includes famous temples such as Angkor Wat, Ta Phrom (Tomb Raider temple), Bayon and many many more were absolutely remarkable. I’m so impressed they were able to build these as early as year 700!  From there, we moved on to Phnom Pehn and then Vietnam.  We were lucky to be in Vietnam during Tet – Vietnamese New Year – so there were lots of festivities, ceremonies and decorations. We had a few frustrating experiences in Vietnam however we managed to eventually look past them and appreciate the beautiful landscapes and sites.

From there, we flew to another continent – Australia!  This had been on my bucket list since I was a child and it did not disappoint.  Not only did we see amazing landscapes and beaches, encounter cool Australian fauna and flora and see the famous Opera House and Harbour Bridge, but I also filled my soul and heart with lots of reunions with Aussie friends – some I hadn’t seen in over 20-30 years! Australia was a jem of a place!!!

Our final destination would be Bali – a place where I got to feed my spirit.  I did shamanic cleanses, yoga, energetic healings and classes, sound healings, purifications, traditional Balinese ceremonies and rituals while taking in the breathtaking natural beauty of Bali. It was a perfect way to end our 2.5 month Team BEAM (Brigitte, Elea, Anaëlle, Maxime) adventure!

Some might perceive this adventure as crazy, while others may view us as courageous, or perhaps even reckless. There are those who might see us as having wild spirits. Personally, I like to believe that every choice and action in my life led us to this moment. I prefer to think that when we discussed our dreams, it wasn’t merely idle chatter. However one interprets it, I believed it was living in the present moment at its finest. It was about manifesting a dream and having faith in something greater. Did I still worry? Of course, especially now that I had more than just myself to consider, unlike in my twenties. Yet, I also saw it as a gift we were giving to our children. Everything they experienced was unlike anything they would learn in school nor in Canada.

When you’re at the bottom of the mountain looking up it may seem really big and impossible to climb, but when you’re actually on the mountain it doesn’t seem as unreachable nor as big.  

If you have a dream, don’t think you can’t reach it.  Don’t let fear take over. Be brave. Be bold.  Don’t wait until tomorrow.  Life is short, fragile and meant to experienced! Just say YES!

girl doing pilates on beach
Brigitte Robitaille has been teaching pilates for 20 years and loves sharing her passion about the human body and mind connections.  She’s been training the next STOTT PILATES© instructors for 15 years and is passionate about sharing her knowledge to keen students looking for something deeper. She teaches in Montreal and Rosemere, Quebec and by Zoom! Her focus is one-on-one training with prenatal, postnatal, kids and clients of all ages with specific needs, injuries and goals.  She also hosts retreats for women, workshops and practices massage therapy, Breathwork, Brain-Gym, Hypopressives, and EFT/Tapping – because if she can help people connect to the vessel that carries them everywhere all day long, she’s happy 😊

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