A lone horse cart awaits for arrival passengers at Pyin U Lwin train station. Once known, and still known to many, as Maymyo (May Town) after the British Colonel May, the town plays an important military role in contemporary Myanmar history. Formally turned into a British hill station in 1896, it became a stronghold of British influence in central Burma.

 

After the evacuation of Rangoon during the World War II, the British's seat of government house settled in Maymyo. It was here in 1942, General Hutton was replaced by General Alexander as supreme commander of the British force in Burma, due to the repeated loss of battle to the Japanese force. A joined meeting among generals from the UK, the US and China was held to stop the Japanese advance. However, the effort of the fragile alliance was soon proven to be futile, as the incompetence of the commanders, the mistrust and superficial friendship among allies, as well as the selfishness on each side superseded co-ordinations and morale. The imperial Japanese army marched into the heart of the country like unstoppable flood. The battered British army pulled back westward to India. The Chinese Expedition Force, however, was blocked in the east front, and forced into the wild jungle north of Myitkiyna. Tens of thousands died from hunger and tropical illness. By then, the Japanese had virtually seized the country and even issued Japanese Imperial Rupees as the legal currency.

 

Decades of the British rule created a landscape like Cotswolds. Until recently, these colonial houses had been shared by multiple families and severely lack of maintenance. However, more and more of them now have been renovated for luxury hotels, or sold to the wealthy Chinese merchants who made a fortune from cross-border trade.

 

It is unsure that exactly when and how this type of horse cart seemingly emerged from classical stories had become a standard mode of transportation in Pyin U Lwin. One only knows that they can be found nowhere else in Burma.

 

Following their traditions, the people of Pyin U Lwin continue to construct their buildings in European style like this fashion shop on the main street.