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9 days swiss miss group tours to Myanmar / Burma

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Archipelago off Myanmar
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Travel with author Martin Schacht in Myanmar

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Yangon, the Shwedagon, the 2,000 pagodas of Bagan, Mandalay, Shan State, the Switzerland of Myanmar, Bahmo in the North, Sittwe and Mrauk Oo in Rakhine, etc.
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Gossips & Travel Stories

‘Competition can sometimes be fierce, but also must be fair and legal’ -  (Pepsi spokesman Dave DeCecco)

It’s about time to add a new travel story! Reason for the lack of last year’s story? Our former German director decided to download our computers during a February weekend… and… to be our competitor.           


The beginning of the story…Years ago, in the late 90’s (still married), a time where I often did not know how to finish my work and dreaming of a 48 hour day, I decided to employ a stranger, coming to my office, begging for a job.

e was stranded in Yangon, in love to a Pha An girl whose parents did not approve of him. They had high dreams of her which included her being a teacher, but definitely not marrying a foreigner coming out of nowhere!

He first started guiding German clients through the country and somehow ended up helping in my office. Due to my growing amount of work he could fill in easily the job.


It seemed to be almost too perfect to be true and my closest business partner Soe Soe and I were often wondering when this bubble might one day explode into something unknown. Never forgetting, that every day in our job brings, brought and will bring us one surprise at least!

Looking back to this time, we actually did not have to wait too long for the first symptoms of change. Before the millennium we got the information that he was seen carrying a baby around the city with a woman not known by anyone in the society. When we asked him, he admitted that he forgot to tell us that he has a baby… hellooo!?! It’s not like forgetting your mantra or hitting the spacebar on your key board

“Never forget hitting the spacebar on your key board over and over”

But so what, I left and leave the private life to our staff.

Soe Soe, however, was very concerned and felt something was wrong and told me she will keep an eye on this story as she did not trust his new girlfriend, the apparent mother of the baby. None of our Myanmar staff trusted the new woman in his life, which definitely was not the aspiring teacher! For the readers who do know nothing about Myanmar, just be informed, that in this country lots of people rely on rumors, gossips and sometimes it is hard to differentiate for us foreigners, what is or might be true.

Well, during the first years of the millennium, when I was not only busy with the increasing work in my office, but also with an endless divorce battle turning into a kind of rose war, ( during 7 years of my life), another but a bit more serious incident happened.

I wasn’t sure if it was this being surprised or just this ‘deja vue thingy’ happening to me, when one morning he sat in front of my table, crying and telling his girl friend left him with the daughter and he must find them. I never forget the look of Soe Soe’s face in his back (rolling eyes and lips moving “YOU SEE!”). I gave him tissues to dry his tears and some days off to find his family, plus one of our guides to accompany him, just in case… Two days later he found her in a beer bar at a local beach resort with her other German lover enjoying Myanmar beer. He came back with the daughter only and let us arrange a nanny for her, as now the toddler was without mother in Yangon...

The dutiful mother appeared after 2 months to the front of his doorsteps and after 9 months another baby joined the happy family. Soon after, the proud mother of 2 also suddenly recalled that actually her niece who lived with them was her real daughter from another marriage with a soldier.

Since then one incident after the other occurred, but he begged us to keep him as he needed the job for giving him the chance to stay with his 2 daughters. We did not have the heart to refuse as he was hard working and really trying with all his efforts to educate his My Fair Lady.

Soe Soe’s relationship to him totally deteriorated when one day, his girlfriend came to our office and threatened him with a knife. I still was on his side, because we both went through so much together, that I did not want to believe that he was already starting setting up his own company. Although I heard more and more ‘rumors” from real good friends, I just did not want to believe it and took the risk of ignoring their advice.

In late 2005 we were already aware that our confidential assets and information were being used by him outside of our company - this all during his so called over time. No wonder many of our clients got email greetings from him with…

“…best regards from Myanmar Travel at night…”

What he did not know was, that we already had been starting collecting information, getting emails from clients telling that he was bad mouthing us, making fun of Soe Soe being a fake director, and me not knowing my business. In short: Myanmar Travel would not be existing without him.

His target was getting - without our knowledge of course - a new company (with our clients of course) to be launched middle of 2006 and then as soon as his license was being approved he had the plan to leave.

Beginning of February 2006 he realized that we knew more than he wanted to and that we were in the process to do something about it. That’s when he finally stole our intellectual property. On a Saturday late afternoon I realized that he was still in our office, although we had told him several times we do not wish him beyond office hours working. Being abroad. I realized that he was online and asked him what he was doing at this hour? ‘Cleaning up’ were his final words … leaving me no choice than to finally accept his new membership.

Congratulations! Your membership has been accepted!

S.S.O.I.P.T (Secret Society of Intellectual Property Thieves)

…and now the real ‘fun’ started!  Not more than 2 weeks later a lot of hotel requested us to please release our confirmed rooms as there is this new company who got the same clients. Further many of our international clients, sent us the mail of the new S.S.O.I.P.T. member, in which he introduced his new company which up to this day only advertises in the internet but is not registered anywhere as a licensed tour company…unfortunately we received from some German clients cancellations.  

We sent out a mailing to all of our contacts and explained the situation and funny enough - what we never had expected was, that YES (!) -  it was only the German market who did not bother to work with a company which cannot prove any original documentation of having a legal right to perform in Myanmar the work in the travel industry they started (and still doing). We thought that the German laws are so strict concerning their licenses, especially in the travel industry, but alas, we realized we were wrong!

Whereas all our US clients were in this respect very clear: they found it totally unethical and even criminal (right they are!) and non discussable and threw the mail into the bin. Some of them even suggested to put him on a kind of black list.  For example like this…


Well, we almost took this idea into consideration , but then we preferred to rather consult our lawyers in both countries and were advised to start legal procedures... which are in process now…but considering my 7 years divorce battle, we are very curious now how many years this will take (?)… 

That is the reason, why we had no time last year for any travel or gossip story, but now we are back to normal every day life including its normal daily surprises.

Mingalarbar from Yangon!

Myriam Grest - who never experiences a dull moment

Travel stories:

A Glimpse into the World's most secretive Country
(October 2008)

Competition can sometimes be fierce, but also must be fair and legal   (August 2007)
My favourite place in the Golden Triangle  (June 2007)
Finding the Touch of the OC in a tiny Burmese Village (OC Metro) (March 2005)
EU's Hollow Lectures on Human Rights (IHT) (June 2004)
"Pass the Nyapi, Please!" (February 2004)
Travel Report from International Travel News (ITN) (June 2003)
Adventures with the Tuesday Club (March 2003)
About Myanmar Rumours and Unspoilt Beaches (October 2002)
Service in the Tourism Industry here and there - Still a long Way to go... (Summer 2002)
Near the Land of the Golden Triangle (May 2000)
A Heavenly Journey to Mt. Victoria (April 1999)
Shin Pyu Ceremony (April 1999)

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1999 Myriam Grest Thein