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Myanmar's new planned capital Naypyidaw
Before you get to Naypyidaw, it is clear that the world's newest capital is a place like no other in Burma. It is the largest and quickest route in a land where perforated routes are considered the main roads.
However, otherwise the transport is made up of stuttering motorcycles, cart and female basket-wearing outfits. Its wide streets, grand pedestrian precincts and commercial centers serve as a role models for the progressive Asiatic city - but many of them are empty and not used. Uncharted million were wasted on building in a land where most humans are living on less than 50 pence a days.
I' m the first West German reporter to have visited the capital since the suppression of the pro-democracy protest last months. Rangoon Harbour has been the capital of Burma since the UK invasion of the land in 1885 and continues to be its largest city - a boiling pot of great hardship, vibrant trade and wealth.
In 2005, it came as a shock when the new capital and the transfer of all governance positions were pronounced by the regime. Long convoy trucks set off for the ten-hour trip over the rugged streets to Naypyidaw, which transported whole ministries and their officials. "I' m missing Rangoon," said a member of the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development.
" Naypyidaw is hardly a city in its architecture, but a set of far apart areas that are meticulously distributed to separate the different parts of the city. Foreign nationals live in the area, in places with the Royal Kumudra, the Golden Myanmar and the Aureum Palace.
Naypyidaw is not quite a construction site. Ming the Merciless Man's Castle has high-walled, brightly lit ceilings and curved tile ceilings. First signs of vitality come at the city' s square and coach terminal, the only place in Naypyidaw where man' s realities affect General Than Shwe' starved silliness.
Rangoon's phone book is 12 pages long, up from 470 pages, but according to the government, it is home to nearly a million souls. Burmese members of the Islamic minorities are expelled, and despite some brilliant new Buddhaist couples there are almost none of the friars who turned against the government last monarch.
Colonels are living in another area, where troops are marching in front of Titanian sculptures of the old Burmese monarch. Most plausibly, the general is fleeing ever louder and louder populations. Rangoon is, after all, a city of protests. Abolishing public service can at least prevent a repetition of the 1988 insurrection when civil servants took to the street alongside undergraduates.
"Naypyidaw will be the ruin of the generals," said a diplomatic foreigner in Rangoon.