Former summer capital of the British colonial administrators of Burma and located on a plateau, Pyin Oo Lwin has a refreshingly cool climate. The eerie town is spread out and scattered with abandoned colonial-style villas, antique horse carts and obsolete baptist churches. The ‘Candacraig’, one of the biggest and most impressive estates, was a well established hotel up to the 1990’s and is still one of the town’s major draws. Today, not much of its former glory is left. Although, travelers are allowed to explore the property and peer through broken windows, all doors remain locked indefinitely.
It’s All about the Journey, Not the Destination
Getting to this quirky place is half the fun. Halfway to Mandalay, Pyin Oo Lwin, formerly also known as Maymyo, is a scenic 6 hour train ride for Hsipaw. Highlight of the (bumpy) journey is the crossing of the Goteik viaduct, a 689m long single rail track steel giant. The trestle was constructed in 1899 as a way for the British empire to expand its influence in the region and was with 102m, the highest trestle in the world at the time of its completion.
Little has changed since the viaduct was mentioned in Paul Theroux’ 1975 travelogue ‘The Great Railway Bazaar’ as ‘a monster of silver geometry in all the ragged rock and jungle, its presence was bizarre’.
Crossing the bridge at walking speed in squeaky train wagons is nothing short of spectacular and both, tourists and locals hang out of windows and doors to marvel at the breathtaking jungle and cliff formations dropping several hundred meters below their feet. Down in the abyss, a lone railway track, long abandoned to vegetation, is the only relict of the colonial invaders’ anti-sabotage plans.