Old Moulmein, or Mawlamyine as it is known now, was where George Orwell was stationed and where he wrote Burmese Days. To Singaporeans, this is the city after which a road near Balestier Road, Singapore, was named.
Mawlamyine is located at where the great Salween River reaches the Gulf of Martaban of the Indian Ocean after a 2,815 km journey from the Tibetan Highlands. This was once the first capital of British Burma, after the annexation of Arakan and Tenasserim provinces following the First Anglo-Burmese War (1823-1826). After decades of economic decay, the city is full of dilapidated colonial buildings.
Mawlamyine is also capital of Mon State. A large percentage of the population of Mon State belongs to the Mon ethnic group, once one of the earliest nations of what is today southern Myanmar. After centuries of war and struggle with the Bamars of northern Myanmar, the Mons are only a majority in tiny Mon State. In other parts of Myanmar, the Mons have effectively been assimilated into the majority Bamars. Today's mainstream Bamar society has incorporated many aspects of Mon culture and traditions. This is similar to how Thai culture has, over the centuries, incorporated Khmer court traditions and culture into their own.
Up till 2002, there was still an insurgency by the New Mon State Army, but a ceasefire has been in effect since. We even drove past signboards celebrating 50th anniversary of the founding of the New Mon State Party, with its distinctive Mon symbol, the Hintha, which is a mythical bird.