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Small town in Myanmar benefits from George Orwell Tourism
Nyo Ko Naing realized in the 1990' that the fistful of overseas visitors who had made it to his isolated home town carried their own cards and appeared to be looking for something. Somebody, as it turns out, named George Orwell. Much of the novel's intrigue, struggles, drink and sweat still stand in the British club, as do other places such as a racecourse, a pit and a warren.
There is one home that is thought to have been Orwell's in Katha and it is still in use. Since then he has been the city's keeper, in-house researcher, non-professional Orwell scholarship holder and literature travel director, who wants to promote Katha as a travel target. He helps with the renovation of the former 19 th C. Commissar's home, which is to open next year as a permanent exhibition.
In Myanmar, also known as Burma, Orwellism has increased since half a Century of armed conflict ended in 2011, although the number of tourists remains low. Katha sees 300 to 400 such visits per months, Nyo Ko Naing says. He established the Katha Heritage Trust in 2012 and launched a press action to rescue the commissioner's home from a resident business man who wanted to turn the estate into an ice arena.
On the first level are now full of stock photographs, among them one by Orwell as a young police officer and several of the author's recent profiles drawn by regionalists. "We' re in the process of gathering material for the Katha museums, such as photographs, dates and other heritages. We' re restoring the building while keeping its pristine look.
Orwell is hoping to be a draw for overseas visitors who will stay for other attractions such as Katha's historic Elefant Camp, which the administration is making ecotourism targets in the midst of a far-reaching wood-prohibition. 12 hour rail journey from Mandalay, Katha is a small, picturesque city in the area around Saaing.
At sunset, walkers and family walk along the boardwalk while the far away hills are dark. Myanmar has modernized quickly in the last five years, and Katha is no different. Now the British Club is a British co-operative. Hotel Katha, which opened last year, used the Orwell link.
Constructed to look like a reddish brickwork house, it features booklets at reception with cards that lead the visitor to the main attractions of the novel. Patients can enjoy reading a copy of the Burmese Day and Orwell's essay in the foyer or dining at the Kyauktada Cafe & Restaurant. Most famous for "1984" and "Animal Farm", Orwell is also hailed for his denunciation of the colonialist regime in "Burmese Days", which largely portrays the UK inhabitants of Kyauktada as racial exploitation.
"He said to me that his work has been in the editor's possession for more than 30 years," Thurein Win, who was translating Orwell's essay, said in an e-mail conversation. It was Orwell who mysteriously written about the Brits and Myanmar as well. Orwell' most striking work by Nyo Ko Naing may trace the author's home, which he had previously mistaken for that of the Commission.
Using a map from the Colonies, he located the Residenz as a two-storey wooden building on the Hauptstrasse, not far from Hotel Katha. On a turn Orwell might enjoy, it's still taken by apoliceman. "My co-workers said that the home you will live in is owned by the English author George Orwell," said Chief of State Security Myint Aung, who was recently moved to Katha.
Though the house is not open to the public, he lets nosy people browse around, and he has given the confidence to put a flag on the veranda that explains some fundamental stories. "The city of George Orwell is both beautiful and interesting," says the name.