At the beginning of the XXth century, Maymo was known to be a lively town. British officers working in Mandalay went up by motorcycle to play golf and have dinner and came down to Mandalay before dawn. During summer time, the British Administration moved from Rangoon to Maymo and with them all the people who wanted to be “somebody in the colonial society”. Maymo was the centre of dances and social meetings, a happy place to be.
George Orwell visited Maymo at least twice. For the officers missing their homeland, Maymyo was the most similar place to England in the stifling Burma. In his “Burma days” Orwell did not mention Myanmar but this city had a special place in his “Homage to Catalonia”:
From Mandalay, in Upper Burma, you can travel by train to Maymyo, the principal hill-station of the province, on the edge of the Shan plateau. It is rather a queer experience. You start off in the typical atmosphere of an eastern city--the scorching sunlight, the dusty palms, the smells
of fish and spices and garlic, the squashy tropical fruits, the swarming dark-faced human beings--and because you are so used to it you carry this atmosphere intact, so to speak, in your railway carriage. Mentally you are still in Mandalay when the train stops at Maymyo, four thousand feet above sea-level. But in stepping out of the carriage you step into a different hemisphere. Suddenly you are breathing cool sweet air that might be that of England, and all round you are green grass, bracken, fir-trees, and hill-women with pink cheeks selling baskets of strawberries.
Favorite thing: Some British reminiscences can still be seen today but Pyin Oo Lwin is far away from hedonist Maymyo. Although some colonial houses have been restored to attract tourism, most of them are empty and forgotten. However it is a smiling city with a busy market and colourful old carriages in the morning and an interesting and lively night market after sunset. I found Pyin Oo Lwin wealthier, cleaner and with less traffic than other Myanmar cities. Maybe this is because of its higher concentration of militaries. Not far from the city centre I found a small suburb with impressive mansions.