It is a crisp morning in Nyaung Shwe and we are sitting having breakfast under the dark teak terrace of A Little Eco Lodge. Aung Kyaw Swar waves his hand airily up at the beams around us.
“I bought an old house on Inle Lake and after demolishing it moved it all back to resettle here. A lot of the wood had been eaten by the termites but I used all the pillars. These are easily 80 or 100 years old. Teak pillars. The shape is exactly the same as the original house. I just enlarged it and formed the rooms. It’s about promoting the local way of living.”
Aung Kyaw Swar is the owner of A Little Eco Lodge, a small guesthouse on the outskirts of Nyaung Shwe. We are looking out on a field of a couple of acres where in a few months – and then only for several weeks – a hundred heads of sunflower will bloom. The sound of monks from the nearby monastery is receding into the distance.
Aung Kyaw Swar was born and raised around Inle. […] In the 1970s U Ohn Maung founded Nyaung Shwe’s first guest house – Inle Inn Nyaung Shwe. Aung Kyaw Swar worked with him and his family in all aspects of their business: from catering to construction to guest relations.
“That gave me a lot of experience and knowledge: how you serve people, how you deal with people and what are their expectations. Working with clients is another window through which to look at your own culture and the environment. You have to study instantly their likes and dislikes, their nature, and what makes them happy. It was interesting to me.”
In 2012 Aung Kyaw Swar was living in Yangon but his mind was “back in Inle”. Around this time he began speaking to Daw Yin Myo Suu – founder of Inle Heritage Foundation – about what they could do for the youth of the lake. At her urging, he agreed to become the first principal of the newly-founded Inle Heritage Vocational Training School. In 2013 he moved back to Nyaung Shwe and bought the plot of land where we were now having breakfast.
In addition to running the Vocational School, Aung Kyaw Swar began supporting owners of small hotels and guesthouses that prioritized experience and feeling above all else; properties that held the customs and traditions of Myanmar front and center. It was through this work that he decided to create A Little Eco Lodge in January 2016. […]