Burma Ghost TownMyanmar Ghost Town
WITNESS: Accommodation in Myanmar's ghost town capitol.
The following is Lou's account of his trip with a UN mission to Naypyidaw, Myanmar's new capitol. Myanmar's secluded new capitol, Naypyidaw, looks more like a bathing town than a town. Naypyidaw is in fact a fictitious stronghold where the lonely former Burmese army leaders have become insulated, some 320 km away from the massive rallies that sometimes erupted in the country's biggest town, Yangon.
was one of a small group of reporters who had the uncommon honour of staying the nights in Naypyidaw, where aliens are forbidden, unless they are officially called. We were given preferential status as members of a UN mission travelling with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon - we were able to use Myanmar's illegally equipped satelite phones to reach the outside community.
Also we had online time to archive histories and email about Ban's second journey to the new capitol, which was founded in 2005. The first thing I saw in Naypyidaw was the shortage of men and vehicles, which gave the ghost town an uncanny ghost town aura.
When we drove over the untouched but empty motorway to our lodge, we saw only MPs, safety officers and a few workers working in the area. As one of the officers of the mission said to us in private, there have been some new arrivals in Naypyidaw - there is now a commercial centre and a separate penguin and lion sanctuary to entertain the monarchs and the peoples who are obliged to settle there.
Below the town there is an expansive web of tunneling created by North Korean engineering, a state with a Cambodian regime competing with Myanmar in covertly. Jounalists were brutally treated by the MPs and law enforcement officers. So I tried to take a picture of Ban when he came into the rendezvous with Than Shwe, when a uniforms officer of the army picked me up by my rucksack and dropped me onto a highchair.
When we returned to the Naypyidaw our organizers had forgot to take good charge of the reporters' meals. We were taken in by the courteous staff of the hotels. You collected remains from a remnant cooked for some of the guards - roasted pasta and vegetable, seasoned pickled sauces, dry seafood and roasted ricefres.
I think this was the first time for Naypyidaw.