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Interview with a Burmese Guide

by Holly Newing

Before travelling to Myanmar, you may wonder what your guide will be like. To give you an idea of who to expect, we asked a few questions of our very own Toe. Discerning, interested and helpful, he is but one of our fantastic local guides who will really enable you to get under the surface of the country.

Holly: Can you introduce yourself to me?

Toe: My name is Than Toe Win but people call me Toe for short. The first name ‘Than’ represents my birthday (it means Friday born). This is also the last name of my Father. Toe means ‘increase’ or ‘extra one’ – because I am the second child in my family. ‘Win’ means victory and it is the first name of my mother. We do not have last names in Myanmar. I’m the only one out of my siblings who has my parents’ names in my name.

Holly: How long have you been a guide?

Toe: For over 20 years, 22 I think. I was born in Yangon and I love travelling which is why I love my job. My mother worked for the government airlines (Myanmar airlines), so my whole family got free travel. We went to lots of places in Myanmar before I became a guide.

Holly: What’s your favourite thing about being a guide?

Toe: I can share my knowledge and I can learn about other countries where I haven’t been. It’s good to hear the reality of other countries after all that I have read about them. I also like meeting other people who love to travel too. We always have something in common. I enjoy the challenge of problem-solving to make sure everyone has a great holiday. It gives me confidence in my abilities.

Holly: What’s your favourite experience in Yangon?

Toe: I love to do cooking classes as I am no good at cooking!! So usually the clients teach me more than I teach them, which is a nice change.

Holly: Where’s your favourite place in Myanmar?

Toe: I have been many places but I love Inle Lake the most. Every time I go, I experience something different. And I especially like the trekking around this area as it’s cooler than other parts so you can do more. Plus there are lots of different communities which makes the area interesting.

Holly: What’s your favourite Burmese dish?

Toe: I love Mohinga; this is a local dish made with rice noodles, fish sauce, lemongrass, ginger, garlic, onion, banana stem, chilli and coriander. It’s a light food and you can get it at the local tea shop. It can sustain me all day!

Holly: What do you do when you’re not guiding?

Toe: I meet my friends, and if my Mum is in good health then I travel to other places in Myanmar with her. She loves to go to Bagan, the place with the most pagodas.

Holly: Do you have any tips for travellers before the come to Myanmar?

Toe: Some people have a culture shock when they get here as it’s not like Europe. My advice is to find out a little bit about our culture, religion and way of life before you come.

If you wanted to talk to an expert about planning your Myanmar trip, do call 020 3627 3081 or email us with your questions here. To see an example of the kind of trip you could have, do take a look at our example holiday itineraries. They’re just a starting point, all our holidays are tailor-made so we can tweak all elements to suit your exact interests. Alternatively – download our free Myanmar travel guide for more insider tips and insights:

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