Pyinoolwin

pyinolevine

Poznan oo Lwin Travels There' s a line of Cinderella cars outside Pyin Oo Lwin railway yard. With the characteristics of the Victorian age and a chilly wind, this former top terminus in Britain immediately looks different from any other Myanmar settlement we've seen. Pyin Oo Lwin, 3,500 ft above sealevel, was the UK's summers flight from the Mandalay heats.

Englishmen went with the collapse of the Imperium in'48, but their villas, squares and well-kept gardens are preserved and the Myanmar tribe has reconquered this quaint little village with new arrogance. Horsedrawn cars are more popular in this part of the country than cabs, so we strap our rucksacks to the handpainted boot and went looking for a beautiful guesthouse (like in: bathrooms and maybe AC ) for my anniversary week.

Tramping through the city, we passed a strange mixture of vicerian houses, stowas, stalls, mosques, sweets stores and a Big Ben-style Clocktower. For $24/night we found the discreetly beautiful Bravo Hotel with a wonderful look at the city. One of the main attractions of Pyin Oo Lwin is the suburbs and so we hired a bicycle for the outing.

On a tour through round and forest roads we marvelled at the old villas and old UK rural societies. Bringing a flora expert from London's mythical Kew Gardens, the Brits manicured this 382-acre large garden of Orchid, Rose and Dahlia and 480 varieties of other plants, bushes and saplings. In order to celebrate an already beautiful anniversary, we went to the Ngwe nano Taw Cantina for a taste (their Damson Plum Rosé is delicious!) and Mike took me by surprise with a dining booking in this enchanting colorful cottage colony restaurante, The Club Terrace.

We had to take a coach to Mandalay the next morning, but not before a break at the bustling Shan Mark. Shan are the second biggest ethnical group in Myanmar and related to the Tai people of Thailand, Laos and China's Yunnan, who give this fair a particularly varied mixture of goods (see slide show for the larvae and floral fish).

And Mandalay was our last stop in Myanmar - more because of the airfield than because of its excellent features. It is a new town ("1857") with an unhappy past. Only thirty years after the Avva Empire constructed its first castle and paya house here, the British came in and took over; sixty years later Mandalay was blown to pieces in World War II.

Mandalay in the Naha Lokamarazein Kuthodaw Pagoda is still the world's largest volume. The Zegyo is the oldest and most important fair in Mandalay; we came here to visit it and buy our equipment before leaving for New Zealand. We are overjoyed for the Myanmar population.

When you want to enjoy the heartwarming friendliness of the locals, you have to go without a group and study the world. We' ve learnt more of the native tongue here than in any other land - not because it was simple or because we remained here longer - but because they were so kind, we wanted to get to know them better!

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