Where in the world is Pyin Oo Lwin?

Philippines – I swear it could have been Baguio. Or I may have awakened from a dream and found myself in a place very familiar, with strawberry jam being sold by the roadside and coffee trees shaded by tall pines and trees which looked a little foreign yet familiar.

You would think Baguio, correct? Well, it is 1100 meters or some 3535 feet above sea level and this is Pyin Oo Lwin. Located in the center of Myanmar, the city is home to coffee plantations and vineyards.

After just a 40-minute drive up sloping terrain from downtown Mandalay, the temperature drops and becomes a cool 13 degrees. Locals say it sometimes drops to 3 degrees and we were quite ready for this experience as we took along thick jackets and scarves.

Pyin Oo Lwin was the British hill station during colonial times, similar to how Camp John Hay was the R&R station of the American forces in the past. Foreigners know where to get cool climes and this area was developed to cater to visitors with hotels and many restaurants offering western, local as well as Chinese cuisine. And what else is similar to Baguio? They have the National Defense College in Maymyo, Pyin Oo Lwins’ other name, as we have the Philippine Military Academy in our Baguio. It was like seeing a parallel universe.

But the similarities end there. Here, the national highway leads to China. You can actually drive for about 700-plus kilometers north to get to Yunnan, China. Truckloads of merchandise and other essentials travel to and fro and the highway is very busy. The local markets teem with Chinese and Indian goods, as India is also a neighbor of Myanmar.

But for a bit of history, do you know why many officials then hired not locals, but Nepalese staff? Drivers, guards and bodyguards were recruited from Nepal. They are known to be Buddhists and vegetarians and are believed to have no material attachments, not greedy, making them perfect loyal servants. So up to today you will still see some Nepalese people in Mandalay.

Source: Philstar Global

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