Ancient sites are a big reason of why I love to travel. Unfortunately, in SE Asia, while there are plenty of old sites, there are not too many ancient sites. Most of the ruins of Thailand, Myanmar, and Cambodia are contemporary with Medieval to Renaissance Europe. So that rare time I do happen upon a truly ancient cultural site, I try my best to get to it.
About 2 hours north of Mandalay, Myanmar is the insignificant town of Shwebo. About 20 km SE of there by way of dirt roads is the even smaller village of Hanlin.This was one of several centers of the Pyu culture, one of the first Buddhist cultures in central Myanmar, beginning around 2000 years ago.
Looking at the village today, not a lot seems to have changed with the exception of power lines running through. Thatch huts dot the bumpy dirt road through town. Crumbling stupas from another era pop out of the surrounding fields. And much of the town is employed in preserving the rare ruins left over from the days of Hanlin’s part in the Pyu sphere of influence.