New Capital of MyanmarMyanmar's new capital
Nobody is living in Burma's new multi-million-pound capital
Wellcome to Burma's capital, Naypyidaw. Situated in the heart of the capital of the twenty-first world war, this recently established man-made homage to the fame of the Burmese junta has all the characteristics of a twenty-first-great capital: a series of high-rise buildings, magnificent monuments and eight by eight alleys of unspoilt byways. Only one thing distinguishes this capital from all other capitals: nobody seems to be living in it.
There is nothing," asked the owners of our hotel when we talked about the opportunity to visit Naypyidaw. A few hour later, he strolled through the kilometre-long, abandoned highway that circled the sweeping city of ghosts, and the empty and bewildered look on his face seemed entirely inappropriate. At 6 November 2005 at exactly 6:37 a.m., Burma's capital was relocated from the countrys historic, economical and culture centre, Yangon, to a sparse area 320 leagues northbound.
Burma's then austere leader, Than Shwe, had been pointed out by his high-ranking astrologer squad that this was the most convenient period for the post-transition. Naypyidaw, on the other side, is located in the middle of the land and resembles a huge shelter, constructed to protect against amphibian invasion, all conceived in the spirit of a totallyitarian emperor.
As Than Shwe considered himself a re-incarnation of an old Myanmarese king (King Kyansittha from the eleventh to be precise ), this accounts for a great deal of his domination of the area. They also explain why the capital is called Naypyidaw, which can be interpreted as the "residence of kings". At one of the dispassionate luxurious lobbies that dominated the countryside, we were rather handled like international ambassadors than backpack tourists.
Naypyidaw was Than Shwe's idea to make it a worldwide touristic hot spot, but unfortunately it hasn't quite succeeded for the Robespierre of world travellers. While we are wandering around the town, everything we see feels more and more like a miserable success. With such luxury accommodation, a perfectly good highway and a total absence of people, you almost forgot that you are in Burma.
Then a poorly-paying laborer who works over a flowerbed asks you for a soda from your soda, and you realize you're not really in Burma - you're running through the imagination of an unreasonable mad mega. What is the true drama of this is the costs to the Myanmar population.
The Irrawaddy, a published by Burma, estimates the cost of building to be 26 billion pounds, but the longer the trend lasts, the more this number will rise. But instead of addressing this issue, the goverment is continuing to invest in its new capital. Perhaps more tragically, the fact is that the Chinese authorities have lent millions of US dollar to fund the scheme, mainly from the central bank, which means that the debts will burden the coming generation of the Myanmar population.
However, it is no big deal when you consider how much the junta ignores the Myanmar population. For example, in 2008, when Cyclone Nagris struck 130,000 dead and made two to three million displaced, the country failed to provide most of the world needed foreign human assistance by refusing to grant a visa. While Than Shwe resigned unexpectedly in 2011, the army still dominates as it is now handed over to another general, Thein Sein.
One thing is clear, though: construction work is continuing seriously in Naypyidaw.