Pyin Oo Lwin
Pyin Oo Lwin is the premier resort town of Myanmar. It is cool almost the year-round, pleasant, beautiful, and healthful to live in. It is the name the region was known in the times of Myanmar kings. In tropical Myanmar, it has an outstandingly come-hither appeal, “a jewel in the crown” perhaps.
Pyin Oo Lwin is in Mandalay Region, at the head of a shallow valley, and at an altitude of 3,450 ft (1,050 m). It is reachable by car or train from Yangon and Mandalay. It is on the Mandalay-Lashio road, on the threshold of northern Shan State, and of South China.
Pyin Oo Lwin is 20’F colder than Mandalay the year-round. So nearer and so colder! It is a resort of choice to flee from the summer heat in the plains. It is the main reason the British developed it into a resort in the first place, as a summer capital for their high officials. A residence has been kept for the use of the head of state since many years ago. A car trip to the town could be memorable, with several S-bends in the road, monsoon forests alongside, and a number of panoramic viewpoints.
Pyin Oo Lwin is multi-faceted. First and foremost, it bears several looks of a British stamp. A number of Tudor-style half-timbered cottages still stand. Most of these have been turned into hotels, complete with rose gardens at the front. They are also manned by Indians and Nepalese (Gurkhas). Then there is the horse-drawn stagecoach, irresistible to take a ride in or to go picnicking. All such looks could be topped by the Purcell Tower downtown. A 75 feet four-sided structure complete with four clocks, it still sends out Westminster chimes regularly. This clock tower was opened in 1936.
As to natural beauty, few can rival Pyin Oo Lwin. Its well-known sobriquet is Pan-myo-daw, the City of Flowers. It is a veritable horticultural show. Apart from the good climate, the area around the town has rich soil. Flowers, fruits, or forest trees, all seem to be in profusion. There are even eucalyptus, silver oak, and pine. Then there are asters, dahlias, chrysanthemums, roses, and cherry flowers (the City of Cherry Flowers, again). In fact, flowers, vegetables, and fruits are commercial products of no small value in the town. Besides peaches, plums, and pineapples, there are more famous strawberries, tomatoes, and damsons. Damsons can be had fresh, pickled, or as a wine (Metmann wine) which tastes sweet and sour at the same time. Coffee is an important crop too. In and around the town are large gardens and farms abundantly producing all those crops. Botanical Garden conveniently spread beside a lake. Strolling in the 200-hectare garden, you can breathe in the cool, crisp air of the town to your heart’s content.
In former times Pyin Oo Lwin was mostly home to Dhanu nationals. It was a veritable center of trade among Myanmar proper, Shan State, and southern China, complete with the 5th Day Bazaar. Now it seems to have people of all races, thanks in no small measure to the past British masters. Apart from Shans, Myanmars, and other nationalities, it has relatively large concentrations of Indians, Chinese, and Anglos.
Spaciously laid out Pyin Oo Lwin boasts quite a number of government institutions. It is a major training center for army officers, doctors, engineers, and just 20 miles or so away there recently has appeared a major center for training the government workers. It is also much known for its sericulture, officially sponsored. Of no less renown are the Roman Catholic seminaries, B.T. Bros Swimming Pool, a weaving center, and dairy works.
Pyin Oo Lwin boasts a number of beautiful waterfalls in the vicinity. Aneesakhan and Wetwun falls are just seven miles and 15 miles away respectively. Still, nearer is the Pwe Kauk Falls, quite a pleasant wooded picnic spot. The Buddhist pilgrim could be satisfied too. After climbing up to the hilltop Nyaung Kan Gyi Pagoda and paying homage to it, you can enjoy a panoramic view of the resort town. Now there is the Maha Arnt Htoo Kanthar Pagoda, lying just outside the town.
If you can stand cold weather a little, it could be great. It is not only a summer refuge for citizens of means but also is considered a residential town for retirees.
But the traffic to and from the town must be getting thicker, as more and larger motor roads are being paved and extended. It has too much goodness for its own good. It must be in danger of losing its long-standing character — quite pleasant and beautiful town for rest and recreation.
Even agriculture-wise, the town and its environs are seeing great horizons beyond coffee and mulberry. It aims to plant canola (Canadian Oil Low Acid) oil crops. Pilot projects have been successful. The edible oil produced is the best hope for the newly health-conscious citizens, as it is said to have no cholesterol whatsoever.
Finally, for the serious foreign tourist or the internal Buddhist pilgrims, a trip to Mandalay and Bagan Nyaung Oo has always been a must. What better way to wind up this journey with than a short trip to Pyin Oo Lwin. If the former is a good feast, the latter would be a great dessert. This could be literal too — lush, juicy fresh fruits and strawberries topped with cream. So, with a pleasant climate all year-round, the welcome extended by Pyin Oo Lwin should not be labeled “warm” but refreshingly come-hither.