Favorite thing: It is rather confusing in Myanmar or Burma because some places have two names, and the guide book i was using calls the town Pyin Oo Lwin but the VT site uses Maymyo, so what is this all about.?
The town was established in 1896 as a hill station and a place the British could escape from the hot temperatures in Mandalay and Rangoon. The town was originally called Maymyo or "May Town" after Colonel James May who was stationed here at one of the early army bases. British Burma would move here during the very hot summers, but in 1948 when the Burmese gained their independence the name was change to Pyin Oo Lwin.
However when i was there most locals referred to the town as Maymyo, and always had, but the signs in English and tourist maps use Pyin Oo Lwin. very confusing when researching information !.
Favorite thing: I found these old Japanese steamrollers interesting. they were parked in a compound which has something to do with the town's road building project. Of you pass the Myanmar forest School and take the next left towards the town center they will be 200 m along the road on the right side. The ones in the photograph are SAKAI road rollers. I don't know how old they are but the SAKAI company was founded in japan in 1918 for the manufacture of locomotive engines, and nowadays they still make 4,000 each year .
Favorite thing: On the way back to the guest house i noticed 4 workers cutting steel bars for the construction site. Instead of having electrical tools to cut the reinforced steel bars that were probably at least 22 mm in diameter. They placed the steel bars in the cutter and cut them by one fellow putting all his weight on the handle by lifting himself in the air while two more helped to force the handle down to cut the bar. Meanwhile i spotted a pile of concrete blocks and the machine to make them. Unlike sophisticated machines you will find in the rest of the world this was a wooden machine with wooden frames to compress the concrete when making the blocks.
Favorite thing: 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.
Favorite thing: We met this man when we left Chan Tak Temple and he was most persistent so we handed a couple of small notes to him. It is normal for the poor to hang around temples in order to receive some help.