Meet Jack the Director: Lights, Camera, Myanmar!
Every month, we put the Spotlight On one of the key players that make it happen for your privileged clients.
This month, get to know Jack (Zaw Min Oo), Sales & Reservation, Khiri Travel Myanmar. He says that being a sales representative for Khiri Myanmar is like being the director of a movie and being a guide is like being an actor.
How does a Burmese get the name ‘Jack’?
I’m Zaw Min Oo. My nickname is “Jack.” It was given to me by a visitor from England. I practised my English skills with him when I was a university student in Yangon majoring in English. Since high school, I’ve been very interested in English. It’s my favourite subject. I earned a degree, a B.A. in English from Yangon East University.
Have you always been in Yangon?
I was born in Bago and brought up there until my high school days. After studying at university in Yangon, I decided to stay. I have been there 13 years now. I married in Yangon and would like to live for the rest of my life here. My wife is a teacher for students from primary to middle school, grades 1 to 9.
I’ve travelled abroad in the last five years, including Singapore. I worked there as a junior officer (CES). In the past, I also worked in Peace House Travel for two years. And I worked as a translator for two years in Kaw Thaung in southern Myanmar, near to Mergui Archipelago Islands opposite Ranong in Thailand. So, that place is very familiar with me.
What do you do for Khiri Myanmar?
In Khiri Travel I work as sales as well as a tour guide. I started working for Khiri in April 2012. At the beginning, I needed some time to be familiar with the job procedures. After a few months, I’m getting more confident in my role and responsibilities. I’ve had very good guidance and advice from Khiri Myanmar General Manager Edwin.
Do you have other travel industry experience?
Before I joined Khiri, I worked in PHT Travel 2003 to 2005. There were similar responsibilities such as making tour itineraries, delivering quotations, answering queries online, handling walk-in clients, and acting as a tour guide. It was useful experience for me and has helped me at Khiri.
Tell me about being a guide
In 2004 I earned a tour guide license for English and Spanish from the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism. In Khiri Travel I work as a tour guide on weekends. When I worked in PHT I was a guide in Yangon and nearby cities and once throughout the whole country for 14 days including Yangon, Golden Rock, Bago, Bagan, Mandalay, Pindaya and Inle Lake. I was also stationed in Yangon and Bago as a guide.
Do you like to be a guide or work in the office?
Working as a sale representative means organizing the tour itinerary that clients request, making quotations, dealing with clients to get the final program and answering further questions from clients, then working with hotels and airlines. So as a sales representative is like being a director for a movie.
Working as a guide is welcoming clients on arrival at the airport, then showing them about the city and country and sharing the best insights and information. Guiding is like being an actor – you take care of the clients to meet their wants and needs and to share your talents as much as you can with them.
What kind of clients do you have?
I’m handling clients from Germany, Holland, UK, US, Australia and Switzerland. Most of the clients are Dutch or American.
What are your favourite places to visit here in Yangon?
Shwedagon Pagoda and surroundings, San Pya Fish Market, China Town, Sakura Tower 20-storey building, Thirimingalar vegetable market, the circular train ride, Kandawgyi Lake and strolling on the banks of Inya Lake.
What are your favourite destinations in Myanmar?
Inle Lake, Bagan and the Mergui Islands are my most favourite places. In the future I would like to go to Mrauk U and Sittwe, the Kalaw Elephant Camp, Ngapali beach and Maung Shwe Lay and Hpa – the Moulmein area.
Is there any special tour you would like to recommend?
The tours that I like best are visits to Yangon after sunset, including Shwedagon Pagoda. I also like to visit the morning market and see the monks. The circular train ride, a day cruise over the Ayeyarwaddy River with Mingun, Ava, Amarapura and Sagaing, the night market, BBQs and puppet show. All are beautiful tours.
What about new places?
A new destination I’d like to add is Myeik Archipelago (the Mergui Archipelago) and islands around in Kawthaung region. There are more than 800 remote islands in the Andaman Sea. Many are unexplored. People that live in the region are often sea gypsies. Also Hpa-An, with its magnificent caves, Swekabin Hill, and colourful costumes of the women in Kayin State, and Mawlamyaing on the southern coast. I would like to show the many places of interest that we have: Kipling’s Kyaikthanlan Pagoda, Kyaikhami seaside resort with Yele Pagoda perched over the sea, and Thanbyusayat where the World War II prisoners built the infamous Death Railway.
Do you have any advice for travellers to Myanmar?
Yes, I have three pieces of advice: prearrange the visa before coming, bring enough cash because credit cards mostly don’t work, and follow the do’s and don’ts in Khiri Travel’s cartoon book.
Mingalaba! Welcome to Myanmar!