The easternmost outpost of British India
As you may know, Burma was a province of British India until 1937 (implementation of the Burma Act) when it it became a separate colony under the name of British Burma. Strangely, there was only little opposition from the Indian Congress Party which considered it a minor matter that would be solved after India had gained her independence. But for the Indians living in Burma (around 7 % of the population before WW II) it had grave consequences.
Loimwe is a hill station in Eastern Shan State, situated around 33 km SE of Kyaing Tong (Kengtung) a few miles off the highway that connects Kyaing Tong with the border town of Tachileik. The name can be translated as ‘misty mountain’. However, it is not only misty but outright cold at 1.600 m above sea level. The station was founded in 1910 and in 1918 one of its landmarks, Col. Rubel’s residence, was built. It is open for visitors but there’s not much to see. From here the good colonel watched over the Raj’s affairs in what has become known later as the Golden Triangle.
It is a picturesque place with an artificial lake in the middle of the village from where a flight of steps leads up to the Satu Ratha Sumingala pagoda. Furthermore a Catholic church (Church of the Immaculate Conception) and a Christian convent run by the Sisters of Charity as well as an orphanage can be found. They were founded by Italian nuns in 1916.
Around Loimwe villages of various tribes are scattered in the countryside, most prominent among them the Akha. I’ve been told that they consider the birth of twins as highly inauspicious and used to abandon newborn twins in the forest. Fortunately, it seems that this habit is a thing of the past and the children are given to an orphanage instead. Tellingly, we’ve met quite a few twins in the orphanage. Well, you know how it is with orphanages in Myanmar. At closer inspection it usually turns out that the children there are no orphans at all but have been sent by their
poor parents to those institutions. Basically, I think that no family in this country would leave children, whose parents have died, to such an institution. In any case they will be adopted by family members. But maybe I’m wrong. What do you think? In the sexton’s office we made a remarkable acquaintance: the friendly Mr. Stephen Ano (J.C.D.), the director of the Keng Tung diocese. The reverend has translated parts of the holy bible into his native Akha language. What an achievement! He told us about daily life and the problems the local Christian population is facing.