In happier times, I had the opportunity to visit Pyin Oo Lwin the other week when I went to Mandalay for a teaching weekend. The trip was organised by Ms Thander and we went with her friend Mr. Aw.
The town is a couple of hours north of Mandalay, a lot of which time is spent climbing up the occasionally precarious mountain roads and switchbacks. Once there, the best thing to do is to relax with a cup of the local highland coffee.
With the coffee and a quick snack safely put away, it was off to the Kandawgyi National Park. There are many attractions to enjoy here and visitors could easily spend the whole day wandering around and looking at all of them. However, since we did not have much time, we hired a golf buggy type thing so we could whizz around in twenty minutes or so.
We started with a display of petrified wood, of various types, coloured and polished. Apparently, as the sign told us officially, petrified wood found in Myanmar is superior to that found anywhere else in the world in every aspect.
Pyin Oo Hwin is famous for being one of the hill stations which were preferred by the British colonialists and the climate is indeed pleasant (although everyone else thought it was freezing). Now that we British have left (which is another murky story), this has become, I was told, a ‘village of the generals,’ who now occupy the private lands and buildings left behind. This is an area where tea and coffee are grown, as well as many types of fruit and vegetables.
Next it was to the aviary. I was told that these large-billed birds are the national (or provincial) symbol of Chin state and that they bond as a couple for life. Once one dies, the other will soon follow (apparently the lady poisons the gentleman when she starts feeling a bit dodgy).
After the garden, we visited a nearby waterfall, which was nice and apparently more impressive during the monsoon season. It was accompanied by this market, where plenty of fruit wines were available – I was advised not to try them because they were mixed with tobacco and other items to make them more suitable for local tastes. Anyway, it was a nice excursion and thanks to Ms. Thander for giving me the chance to see it.