In the afternoon we fly back to Mandalay , and from there drive up to Pyin Oo Lwin . It is a slow drive up a steep and winding mountain road. There are police everywhere, and we are told that they are there to clear the road of all traffic as a convoy of VIP cars goes through. Our driver manages to sneak on the back of the convoy and we too get whisked up to Pyin Oo Lwin without having to deal with any other traffic. How we don’t get stopped by the police is a miracle, as the VIPS are all in huge modern four wheel drives, while we are in the usual twenty year old Toyota. It is nighttime, and driving is extremely dangerous as there are no street lights and the roads are full of bicyclists without lights or any reflective garments.
Pyin Oo Lwin is a hill station where the British retreated when they found the summer temperatures and humidity of Mandalay too much to take. Everywhere you can see the influence of the British, from the colonial style homes and their gardens, to the hotel where we stay. The hotel is an English Edwardian building complete with the drafts, rattling windows and linoleum floors, but without the hissing radiators. There is no form of heat, the place is freezing, and the bedrooms feel like dorms in an old English boarding school.
We are here to see the town, and the huge flower festival it holds every year. The festival is held in a large park with lovely walks through the gardens and round a lake. There is even a small zoo. The morning wandering around the park is lovely, the flower gardens are worth seeing, but the town is not.