What a Train Journey in Myanmar (Burma) Taught me about #SocialMedia

Looking down the track at Maymyo station

Looking down the track at Maymyo station

Just recently returned from Myanmar (Burma), during the holiday I met a couple who knew very little about Social Media. It was during an evening meal, following an amazing train trip. The train took us from Maymyo to Hsipaw. Over the amazing Nyuang Pain crossing built by the British in 1903 over the Gokteik Gorge.

In was at dinner in Hsipaw that the subject of my work on-line and in Social Media came up.

So how do you explain Social Media to people who don’t do Social Media?

In Mayanmar, that morning we needed to get up early and we had time to have a tea at a local tea house (it even had WiFi).  We walked up and down the station. When the train arrived an additional two carriages needed to be shunted from a siding and connected to the main train in the station.


Engaging with people on the Maymyo – Hsipaw train in Burma.

That twenty minutes gave me time to wonder up the training in the station and engage through the windows at the people on the train.  In Burmese, “Minglabar” is the standard welcome, similar to “how are you?”, “Good Morning” etc. It is not time dependent, so you can use it at any time of the day.

The Burmese I have found are very friendly and are also keen to engage with “outsiders” after the country being closed for so many years.

Walking down the outside of the train saying “Minglabar” to the local people through the windows, created new and different endangerment with complete strangers. One family enjoyed having their photos taken with me showing them the results on the camera LCD screen. Many had not seen their own photo before. I found one lady who spoke some English and we talked, “where was she going?”, “why was she travelling?” and “how come she had learnt how to speak English?”

Simple questions but engaging all the same.

The train...

The train…

Back to the conversation at the dining table.

“Why?” I was asked “would I want to talk on Social Media to people who are complete strangers?”. Relaying the story of the morning, I think there was “light bulb” moment to my two dinner companions.

The next question being “How much time do you need to spend on Social Media?”

IMG_8465Tim Hughes is a speaker on Social Media, his specialist subject is Social Selling he can be contacted on LinkedIn is @timothy_hughes and @OracleTim


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