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Myanmar's Naypyidaw almost felt like Las Vegas when it has 1,000 inhabitants and removed most of the light characters that draw the stripe at night. Palms line 10-lane motorways, the radiant warmth of the sunny weather and large properties are close together.
It' s as if the Myanmar administration had constructed a new town for tens of thousands of people and everyone left their homes at the last minute. Naypyidaw wasn't always the capital of the story. Yangon, a busy town 200 leagues southward, kept that name. At the end of 2005, the capital was relocated to Naypyidaw as it has a more central position in the state and is a hub for many of Myanmar' most of the population.
There are speculators that the capital has been shifted because Yangon is vulnerable to a flood localized by a large torrent of wells. Other people believe it was a more superstitional choice by a Myanmar administration officer. For whatever reasons, the building of streets, buildings and other infrastructures began soon after and should be completed by 2012.
Mussels from huge deserted hotel are lying on slopes with open walled and broad streets (sometimes up to five tracks per side). Otherwise there is a void over Naypyidaw: the capital that has forgotten the times. It was as beautiful as any other celestial pillar in the whole land, but here too we were two of perhaps 150 guests, a piece of the thousand that could accommodate it.
Overnight at a Jade City and next to a group of four backpacker tourists who left on our arrival, there were perhaps only two more groups. There are two major edifices, which are used for rooms and restaurants, and another edifice named "Jade Entertainment", where there is a nightclub and the beginnings of what seemed like a cinemas.
Skeleton of small houses with open concrete stones and unpaved yellow-green garden show how little attention was paid to this place when it became clear to the public that nobody came to this town. Seems the administration put a boat load of cash into the capital's movement and thought it would be followed.
Well they didn't, and when the administration realized it was too latecomer, the beginnings of giant hotel buildings and bringing alien species from Yangon Sanctuary to fill it in Naypyidaw. In fact, a funny man from Burma had a sketch about how the beasts all move to the new capital, a bold statement about the politician and not about the people.
Perhaps in the next ten years Naypyidaw will make the crossing, but until then Naypyidaw is just a big town with big hotel and nobody to fill. With 24/7 power, trusted web, the country's largest wildlife sanctuary and, above all, a lot of room (things that are difficult to find in other parts of Myanmar), the town is also lacking in emotion, cultural awareness and recognizable styles.
For this reason I strongly discourage you to visit the spirit capital. Particularly if you have places like Inle Lake, Yangon and Bagan to meet all your travelling needs. What is the best way to get to Nay Pyi Taw? For those interested in exploring the haunted city of Naypyidaw, you can do so from the more sought after locations near Yangon and Mandalay.
Naypyidaw from the old capital Yangon is 5-6 hour by coach. On an 8-lane motorway you drive to the extraordinary capital. Naypyidaw is 3-4 hrs from Mandalay southwards. Except for civil servants, the town is always frequented only by aliens fascinated by the idea of a town without a population.