Naypyidaw, Myanmar’s surreal capital ‘city’

But really, there was no city in sight.

We rolled into Naypyidaw at about 4am, and we had nowhere to go. We were planning on staying til about noon, but we still needed somewhere to hang til dawn and a place to keep our luggage. A taxi driver stole us from the crowd and proceeded to drive us all over the city. We opted for one of the larger hotels (with an Australian flag flying), and asked if we could hang in their lobby for a couple of hours.

At 6am, their continental breakfast buffet opened up, and we watched a thin trickle of tourists/diplomats/business people sleepily wander in. We loaded our plates, and I was nearly sick. The juice was off, the hot items were cold, and most things didn’t taste right. It was apparent that nothing was freshly cooked, which made us wonder how long they’ve been sitting there… It seemed like everything just gets heated up again the following morning. So gross.

So Naypyidaw is a very young city. Construction began in 2002 and was somewhat completed in 2012. We found it comparable to Pyongyang, with its grandiose architecture. twenty-lane roads, and very few people around. We questioned the quality of the engineering, however, as there were serious cracks in the roads and the like. A stack of money (The NY Times say at least 3-4 billion) would’ve been poured into Naypyidaw’s construction and establishment, which probably might have been better utilised if the focus was on investing in Myanmar’s general economic health.

It’s a stark contrast to the of the places we visited, and doesn’t accurately reflect the conditions of Myanmar as a whole. That said, the government has forced population growth into the area as diplomats were plucked out of Yangon, and Naypyidaw is now the country’s third most populous city, after Yangon an d Mandalay. It didn’t feel that way at all though. We were very amused that our Lonely Planet guide compared the city to our very own Canberra, in that only diplomats and business folk reside there, and that it becomes eerily quiet during the holiday season…

Enough commentary. Enjoy the sights!

2 Comments

  1. Hi there,
    You have some great photographs of Myanmar on your page. As my wife and I have booked a trip similar to yours I am slowly thinking which camera gear to take with me. May I ask what you had with you?

    Thanks and keep up those great photographs of yours
    Daniel

    • Hi Daniel, Thanks for writing! Sorry it’s taken a while to get back to you. For my travels I usually keep to my stock standard 35mm prime, and a good wide angle lens which I use for landscapes (10-24mm). I don’t like to switch them around too often, but I find that it’s all I ever really need :) I hope you enjoy your time there; it’s such a beautiful country!

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