Charlotte – General Manager at Khiri Travel Cambodia
Listen and be open to the opportunities they say! Even in the most unlikely moments!
How I got my first job in the tourism industry …
March 2016, back from 2 years working in Scandinavia, my very enthusiastic dad sets up a new business, a restaurant in the Loire Valley. Well, a little wooden cabin (“Guinguette” in french) on the edge of the river, very bucolic, serving fresh food and organic wine, a family business called La Cabane du Chat-qui-pêche, meaning the hut fishing cat!
I had been working in the railway sector for two years and was really happy to come back home and help for the opening year. The restaurant would open every year from April to October and being disassembled in the winter as the location is usually flooded.
15th of April, all ready for the Grand opening, beautiful season ahead, we start being fully booked very quickly, the feedback is amazing, customers are happy and so are we!
What could have possibly gone wrong?
3rd of June, it’s been a week the region gets heavy rains and the river can’t take it anymore. We can see the level of water coming up, but we strongly believe that it won’t reach the restaurant. Hoping was apparently not enough, on the 6th of June, we received a call from one of the villagers at 5am, informing us that by today, 1 more meter will come up and the whole restaurant would be under the water.
Rain boots on, we have 4 hours in front of us to move everything out, to elevate all fridges and electronics and find a place to store everything! After about an hour of packing everything that we could, as fast as possible, the whole village was there to help us, the local companies lent us a truck, villagers were offering their garage for storage. We had no clue where all the equipment was going but at least some of the furniture was saved.
It was such a difficult moment but at the same time, we couldn’t believe the help, the generosity and the kindness we were receiving from our neighbors.Huge and heavy tanks were sent to avoid the restaurant from floating (see picture below).
By 10 am, it was impossible to get in the restaurant anymore and we were just hoping that all the stuff that was left was going to survive and that the water wouldn’t come even more up in the coming days.
While sharing a comforting lunch with everybody, I met this woman telling me all the stories about her son working in Mongolia for a travel agency. We stayed in touch as I saw her a few times later in the year once the restaurant reopened.
Later in November, after the first season was wrapped up, I got a call from Morgan, the son, asking me if I wanted to send my resume to Nepal as a position was opening! And there I was, 7th of January, settled in Kathmandu, at the bottom of the Himalayas, selling beautiful treks to hikers around the world!