We are speaking to Win in the chic Steel Brothers Wine & Grill restaurant at the Excelsior Hotel in Yangon. It is mid-afternoon and the restaurant is quiet and, save for our table in the middle, empty. Win is small, demure, sitting with a straight-back and an intense, serious gaze. He is 21 years old, from the Pa’O ethnic group, born around Inle Lake. He is now a receptionist at The Excelsior and is telling us about how he came to be there.
“I was born in the countryside outside Pinlaung. Before my hotel life I was selling betel-nut at Pinlaung, Phekon and Loikaw. When I was selling once in Phekon market an Inthar gentleman told me about a training school at Inle Lake. He knew me and was very friendly and didn’t want me to follow in the footsteps of others because selling at the market is not good for young people. He knew that I could go further because I enjoyed making conversation with foreigners.
“I was really interested to go there so I went to apply for the school. We had an exam and an interview. They just asked why we wanted to attend, and what is your potential, and your opinion. Luckily I passed and I got the chance to attend.”
Asked why he thought he was accepted to the Training Centre, Win says:
“Maybe they knew that I really wanted to attend. It is a free school. And so some students when they don’t have to pay, they do not follow the procedure, they do not obey the regulations. But I did, and I can work under pressure.”
IHHVTC is part of the Inle Heritage Foundation, a not-for-profit organization working to preserve and enhance the culture of Inle Lake and the people who call it home. The Foundation began as just “Heritage House”, a stilt building in the middle of the lake used as a sanctuary for Burmese cats being reintroduced to the country.
It was founded by Yin Myo Su (more commonly and affectionately known as ‘Misuu’), who is the Managing Director of the Princess Group which includes the Inle Princess and Mrauk U Princess hotels. […]