Introducing Pyin Oo Lwin
Founded by the British in 1896, the town was originally called Maymyo (‘May-town’), after Colonel May of the 5th Bengal Infantry and was designed from its inception as a place to escape the Mandalay heat. Following the Indian-raj terminology for such places, it has ever since been known as a ‘hill station’, though in fact it’s almost entirely flat (just at raised elevation). After the construction of the railway from Mandalay, Maymyo became the summer capital for the British colonial administration, a role it held until the end of British rule in 1948. The name was changed after the British departed but numerous colonial half-timbered buildings remain. So too do the descendents of the Indian and Nepali workers who came here to lay the railway line.
In later decades, Pyin Oo Lwin was famous mostly for its fruit, jams, vegetables and fruit wines. And the huge military academies, built here to train the soldiers of the Tatmadaw (Myanmar Army). However, as Myanmar gets a new breed of nouveau riche, Pin Oo Lwin is once again becoming a popular weekend and hot-season getaway. The town is seeing a burst of investment, roads are getting busier and construction is beginning to fill up the once generous tree-shaded spaces between mansions in the wealthy southern quarter. Come quickly to experience what’s left of the old calm.