Namtu, an empty city open to the public.
Situated in the Shan Mountains, a former hometown that once made most of the world's plumb and a lot of sterling would like to tell its intriguing story to people from near and far. Featuring Namtu Town on the Strait of Lashio, a two-hour ride through innumerable tranquil townships in this secluded part of the north Shan State, you' ll catch your eye with rarely seen game.
Once one of the most advanced townships in the land, the former is known for the Namtu and Bawdwin Mine ('last edition'), which were the primary sources of plumb, an important resource of copper, tin and copper before the Second War. Entrepreneurial China based mining in the region for centuries until it came up against groundwater level issues.
In the 1880s the Brits reanimated the mine and the largest ones were run by the Burma Corporation, which was nationalized in 1962 and taken over by the No. 1 mine company under the Ministry of the Mine. The city even had its own airport from the UK Colonies until the 1950', when Namtu flourished as one of the most important coal mine centers in the word.
Some inhabitants, however, are very interested in reviving the glorious times Namtu experienced from the turn of the last millennium to the first ten years after its 1948 reunification, in the hopes of drawing more visitors interested in the region's wealthy and intriguing past. The number of leisure establishments used by the UK and other overseas during the booming years was a characteristic of Namtu and the more developed Bawdwin area.
One of them was the American Herbert Hoover, who invested in landmines early on before becoming the 31 st US Federal Reserve in 1929. The Namtu region went into disrepair when the landmines were nationalized after General Ne Win took over in 1962 with a military coup, but some of the city's citizens want it to become a touristic area.
Myint Mo Industrial Co Ltd, formerly a member of the Asia World Group, and Myanmar Apex Mining Co Ltd each had to face a number of challenging tasks, although the latter were able to achieve constant output in the past year. Namtu Township was intended by the former Union Solidarity and Development Party to become a tourist area focused on the historic Tiger Camp near Bawdwin, the site of a mine of the same name, but the plans seem to have been put on hold since the changeover of powers in 2016.
Foreign visitors to Namtu are limited to the city centre, i.e. they cannot visit the many interesting places in the area. Among them are the Bawdwin near by and its rides such as the Marmion shaft and small-train trains with steams. Natives say that some aliens made it to Bawdwin and some were driving the engines.
Approximately 16 kilometers from Namtu city center is a Taung Thone Lone Falls and an attractive feature of the city is the Green Grand House, used by high-ranking government officers, among them Ne Win. Namtu as a tourist resort for national and international visitors is a comfortable high mountain environment, freeing from the heats.
But there are hurdles, and one remarkable one is the safety situation: North Shan State is one of the most competitive parts of the land, and there have recently been battles near Namtu between the Tatmadaw and ethnically based people. On our trip from Namtu to Bawdwin - a three-hour motorcycle ride - we were paused at four Tatmadaw control points, one of which was occupied by the Ta'ang National Liberation Army.
A further challange is that there is no motel in Namtu and only a few of them. Namtu is a charming area with warm-hearted inhabitants who want to welcome people from Myanmar or the whole country.