Myo Kyaw, 23. Yangon, Myanmar.

On our first night in Myanmar I stayed up into the wee hours having a wide ranging conversation with Myo Kyaw, one of the minstrel / hotel employees at the Golden Smiles guesthouse in Yangon. It would be indicative of the friendliness the Burmese people would extend during our three week stay in this wonderful country. That night he asked me how I liked Myanmar and as it was only my first night there, I promised I would come back in three weeks and tell him my opinion. It was then, the night before we were to fly back to Thailand, that I asked him our ten questions.

1. Where are you from?

Hmawbi in the Yangon division, about 38 km from here. It is a small town of maybe 38,000 people. They are mostly rice or fruit farmers.

2. What is your occupation?

I work here in this hotel - I clean the rooms. It is a good business, very busy in January and February during the dry season In the rainy season it is a lot quieter though for some reason we get a lot of Spanish people. I think because it is very hot then in their country.

3. Do you enjoy it, or would you rather do something else?

I like this job but I want to be a guide. . I like being a tourist guide and sometimes the guests here will hire me to show them around. My boss will let me take off time to do it. I will stay here 5 or 6 months more and then I will be finished with my studies and get my tourist guide license. I have been studying German for a year because guides who speak German can make $38 - $40 a day. Speaking only English you will make only $15. I have also started learning Japanese.

4. Have you traveled much or been outside your country?


5. Tell me about your family? Are you married?

I have a mother and two sisters. My father died when I was 18. He was in the Tatmadaw (Burmese Army) when he caught Malaria and died. My mother had to go to work then and now she is a shopkeeper. She sells traditional Bamar noodles called Mohinga(rice vermicelli with fish sauce) - she cooks them on the street. One sister is twenty and got married two months ago. It was a big wedding and the brides parents traditionally pay for it so it was difficult for my mother. My other sister is a student, she is 15.

6. What is your favorite food?
Mohinga of course! My mother makes the best. I have tried western food, Italian I think. Anyway, I didn't like it.

7. Do you have access to the Internet?

No. I don't know what it is. I don't care though. I am not interested in the Internet.

8. Where did you learn your English? Why did you learn it?

Because I want to know languages and it is easy to study here, I am studying German and Japanese at a school here in Yangon, it is why I took this job in the city. English I just learned from a friend and a little from tourists. It is an international language and I know I need it for my life, for visitors, for everything.

9. What do you do for fun?

Play the guitar. I've been learning from my friend for about a year now and I am quite good. I like to sit around here and play and sing with the other people who work here, we have a good time. Sometimes I go downtown and see a movie, mostly war or action. I don't have much money though. I just saw Enemy at the Gates, that was a good one. Have you seen it?

"Yes, just last week in Pyin oo Lwin."

"And how do you like Myanmar now?"

"I love it."




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