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Naypyidaw: Strangest capitol in the whole wide globe?
Which is the strangest capitol in the underworld? Naypyidaw, Myanmar, is the strangest capitol in the underworld. That' s right - if you think that the main town of Burma was Yangon (formerly Rangoon), then you're not. Myanmar has a long tradition of change in its capitals. This was not unusual at the time - especially in the buddhistic lands, where the capitol was always altered whenever a sovereign deceased.
When the realms ascended and collapsed over Southeast Asia, incursions sweep across the continents, the realms fused and disintegrated and became obsolete, and Burma ended with a series of different capitals. At 354, Mrauk U followed, a town on the west edge of Burma and the second most important archeological site in the state.
For example, Toungoo was Burma's main city for only one year and 61 in all. A number of towns became capitals more than once: Ava and Pegu (now Bago) each fired no less than five shots, and even Toungoo got a second hit in the big game.
The point is, no assets are secure in Burma. Until 2005 Yangon was the main town of Burma for 143 years (with some breaks during and after the Second World War). Featuring its large gold heart, the Shwedagon Pagoda, and its imposing colorful architecture, it had a splendour appropriate to a capitol, and there was nothing to suggest that would undermine that.
But, without knowing it - well, virtually everyone - Yangon's day was counted as the Burmese civic and administration heartl. The Burmese army regime relocated the city from Yangon to Naypyidaw in 2005 for grounds that were unintelligible to everyone. Built in secrecy since 2002, Naypyidaw (to put it mildly) lies in nowhere.
On an area of 4,800 kilometers - six time the size of New York City - this large giant concreting plant sits in the midst of flats full of paddy and sugar cane crops, 400 kilometers from Yangon and another 300 kilometers from Mandalay. In 2014, when Top Gear was visiting Naypyidaw, they were playing soccer on abandoned 20-lane motorways.
In 2005, even those political and diplomatic figures who came here at the instigation of their leader are commuting from their Yangon houses instead of settling in this huge, land waste. Naypyidaw has been controversial since its inception. Rumors have it that the North Koreans were helping to construct a tunnel under the roads of the capitol (for what reason - who knows?), and in 2006 an author was detained for three years for photographing in the town for a Russian church mag.
Is it the project of conceit a maniac Than Shwe, Burma's own crazy monarch? Or, did the Burmese leader want to conceal the ubiquitous opportunity of national uprising? More than ten years later, Naypyidaw is still standing uncannily abandoned, the breeze whistles on its shabbily laid out motorways and the steppe walker jumps between its palace-like, pastel-coloured villas.
The pulsating centre of the land is Yangon, and still scratching people's head when Naypyidaw's name is pronounced. Naypyidaw may not have given you a brilliant image of her, and in fact few travelers take the necessary amount of travelers' attention - but a steadily increasing number of travelers are choosing to turn their backs on the usual touristic path to see all these oddities for themselves.
It is certainly unlike anything you will see - probably ever - and provides an glimpse into the Burmese dictators' epic hyped. If, during your stay in Myanmar, you would like to take a stroll on the strange page, click here to speak to one of our Burma professionals and they will plan your itinerary.
They can also find out more about the Burmese past and its army rut.