Bagan Revisited as an Intern – Sequel 2

My first week of internship at Thiripyitsaya Sanctuary Resort was completed by spending 5 days at Housekeeping Dept. to learn about room service and its relationship to the operation of the Resort. Then, as the second week of my internship, I was introduced to other important departments of Thiripyitsaya Resort, such as Kitchen Dept., Finance Dept., Gardening Dept., Security, and Engineering Dept.

My first stop was at the Kitchen Dept. There, I got to see the whole Thiripyitsaya’s kitchen that prepares food for thousands of people each year. The kitchen comprised of two lines that cooked two main kinds of food for the diners. The first line was Asian line, which cooked not only Burmese food but also other Asian foods. The second line was Western line where European foods and American foods were mostly served. Besides that, there were 5 big storage refrigerators in the kitchen that stored raw beef, pork, seafood, and imported poultry separately. In addition, there was also a separate room that was intended for preparing meat and poultry before they were cooked. Close to the entrance of the kitchen is an air-conditioned storage room that was used for stocking ingredients, fruits, and vegetables. The chef who gave me this tour emphasized on the use of First-in First-out stocking system because of the Bagan’s arid weather. Next to the kitchen was the dish-washing room equipped with a dishwasher, sinks, and a huge cupboard. After passing through the entrance of the kitchen is the pastry room where both Burmese and western desserts were made. Next to the pastry room is two other storage rooms that were used for stocking dry fruits and kitchen equipment. In the end of the tour, the chefs told me that they carefully prepared and stored food, and they guaranteed that the foods they cooked were healthful, organic, and perfect in the combination of color, aroma, taste and appearance.

Next, I was sent to the Finance Dept., where I learned about the general sources of cash in/outflows of the Resort from its Chief Accountant. As a revenue-driven source, the Resort has operated a Restaurant, Bar, Souvenir Shop, Spa, bicycle-rentals, and other special programs

Royal Dinner Photo -1
Royal Dinner at Pagoda Garden (Copyright to Thiripyitsaya)

besides offering accommodation to the tourists. These special programs included Dinners at the Pagoda Garden, Cooking Class, and Meditation Class. The Chief Accountant also explained to me that the Resort’s source of Account Receivables and Payable. Although most of the departments, such as Food & Beverage Dept. and Front Office Dept. had their own cashiers, they were not financially independent. At the end of the day, all the vouchers and receipts were sent to the Night Audit from the Reception for audition. Then, the Night Audit would transfer all the audited financial statements to the Finance Dept. the day afterwards. After the International Revenue Department (IRD) has renewed the law of charging Commercial Taxes at restaurants and stores in early 2016, Thiripyitsaya also started to charge a 5% tax in every item or service that it sold to its customers. The way how this new system works is that every restaurant or shop (including Thiripyitsaya) in Myanmar would buy stickers, and stick them on top of each receipt that it gives back to the customers in order to prove that the tax charging is legitimate. Each layer of the stickers consists of 100 stickers with values that range from 50 to 10,000 K. *(K = kyat is the currency of Burma. K1182 is equivalent to $1 currently.) When the suppliers put a sticker onto the receipt, they are going to stick the corresponding amount of the tax charged that reflects on the receipt.  Here is a picture of how the tax stickers looked like:

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The image of tax stickers (from K50 to K10,000)

For example, when the owner of a shop went to the IRD to buy a layer of K10,000 that consists of 100 stickers, he/she would have to pay K10,000,000 in return. This means that the owner would have to stick these 100 stickers on top of receipts in order to earn the K10,000,000 back. As reported by Aye Thidar Kyaw in Myanmar Times about “Retailers to Charge Commercial Tax,” these stickers are the proofs to customers that shop owners are paying tax to Myanmar government (Myanmar Times, August 31, 2016.) Nevertheless, neither all restaurants nor shops in Myanmar are obeying this policy exactly. Still, there are a large portions of shops and restaurants in Myanmar are avoiding from paying taxes. Additionally, most of the suppliers are underpaying taxes because of the difference in the amount of payment. For example, if the tax charged is K140, the shop owners would pay K100 because there isn’t an amount of K40 in the stickers.

Third, continuing from Finance Dept., I went to the Gardeners’ Office. There, I learned about the day-to-day work that Thiripyitsaya’s gardeners do.

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The overview of Thiripyitsaya Resort (Copyright to Thiripyitsaya)

At Thiripyitsaya, gardeners are generally in charge of mowing the lawn, taking care of the flowers and the Organic Garden, controlling pest, taking care of the peacocks, etc. At the Organic Garden, there are vegetables and plants planted to serve Thiripyitsaya restaurant’s diners. As Thiripyitsaya emphasizes in decorating the public areas, taking care of flowers and the lawn have been an important task for the gardeners. Whenever a season changes, gardeners have to move flowers from the nursery to the yard to replace the outdated ones. In addition, as the Resort is surrounded with plenty of plants and trees, pests controlling is also an important task for the gardeners. Gardeners would use anti-pest spray to spray indoors and outdoors 8 times per month to control pests. Furthermore, gardeners are also responsible for taking care of the peacocks that are raised at Thiripyitsaya’s peacock zoo. During High season when there is high occupancy at the Resort, gardeners would release the peacocks out from the zoo at the breakfast time for guests entertainment.

Peacock Picture (1)
Peacock viewing at Thiripyitsaya’s lawn (Copyright to Thiripyitsaya)

When the breakfast time ends, gardeners would escort the peacocks back to the zoo. These peacocks are very familiar with the guests as the frequent interaction with the guests. Normally, Guests are invited to give treats and interact with the peacocks. Unfortunately, during the rainy season, peacocks would become restless. Therefore, it is very rare that peacocks are released out for entertainment during the rainy season.

After visited Finance Dept., I went to the Security Office. There, I learned about how the Office ran throughout the year. The Security Office normally operates with four shifts: Morning, Evening, and Night. Therefore, it was operated throughout the whole day. While on duty, all the security officers were responsible to patrol around the Resort to ensure the safety of the guests and Thiripyitsaya Community. To record that the security officers did their jobs, the management team required them to register on the checkpoints. Within Thiripyitsaya Resort, there were about 26 checkpoints. A round check from one end of the Resort to the other end would take about 45 minutes. Besides patrolling around the Resort compound, the other duty of the Security officers was to record all the vehicles and guests that pass in and out of the Resort, to inspect employees who come in and out for duties, to make sure that drivers from Free Independent Travelers don’t sleep inside their vehicles, and to prevent wild animals from entering the Resort community.

Finally, I was sent to the Engineer Office, where I learned about the general functions of the Office. At Thiripyitsaya, the engineers were in charge of taking care of telephones, lights, air-conditioners, kitchen equipment, electronics, and electricity access as a whole. Because Thiripyitsaya used sea water to support the whole Resort, water treatment was another important task for the engineers before it was distributed to the users.

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Chlorine Test Kit

Generally, water treatment is a process of filtering water through the use of chemicals (such as Chlorine and Carbon filter) and Chlorine test kit (picture illustrated below.) As Thiripyitsaya also had a swimming pool, water filtering processes for normal use and swimming pool use were different. The water for normal use only needed 65% concentration. Then, it would be tested with the Chlorine test kit. If the PH level passed, the water would be safe for using. However, water for swimming pool use would need an additional step of adding Chlorine 9% concentration and go through the Chlorine test kit to test the PH level. The engineers told me that water treatment was a very important task as it was related to the health of the whole Thiripyitsaya’s community.

All in all, it was eye-opening to get exposed to these operational management. I used to think that operating a hotel is easy. After experiencing these, I have understood it is such an effortful business that needs lots of cooperation, knowledge, commitment, passion, and time.

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