Nay Pyi DawThe Reincarnation of the Past Genre: Narrative, Travel Essay, Geography & Politics
Nay Pyi Taw, when it finally came into view, appeared instantly in a glittering fashion. City of Lights. That was my first impression, which I believe, coincides with those of most Burmese people, living in a country where access to electricity is valued, only second to money or gold.
I took my preferred window seat on a comfortable express so I was fully aware of this sudden change in nature of my surroundings. For four hours, the view from the window revealed a blurry, uninteresting view - ghostly silhouettes of wild trees swooshing past along the national highway. At times, I could figure out bare plateaus of the Paegu Mountains against the moonlight, realizing how badly resources were managed in this resource-glutted country which for decades is preyed on by more affluent neighboring countries, especially China.
|A glance to the grande Parliament|
From my window seat, truly every infrastructure appeared as if each of them was built yesterday. Once again, I felt that Nay Pyi Taw lacked the essence of the city - traffic jams, traffic lights, pedestrians pushing their way to work, shopkeepers preparing for the day. Like the nightlife of the city a few hours ago, the city was pretty much dull. For a moment it resembled cities like Abu Dhabi of UAE or Putrajaya of Malaysia - was planned in advance, built overnight, decorated with lavish infrastructure but still lack the essence of a major city.
We arrived at the equestrian ground just in time for the opening ceremony of the tournament. Two heavy convoys of black, luxurious sedans arrived at the scene, police officers saluting before the convoys. I was told that the Vice-President of Myanmar, U Nyan Win and the Minister of Sports, U Tint San had arrived. A couple of speeches were delivered by both as the ASEAN equestrian players lined up accordingly with their respective national teams. Here's another difference I noticed between Nay Pyi Taw and Yangon - a sense of authority and power. Ever since huge masses of government offices moved into Nay Pyi Taw from Yangon in 2005, such huge convoys of government vehicles and signs of respect from fully-uniformed police officers saluting at the vehicles were hardly seen on Yangon's streets.
|Over 75% of country's electricity!|
|City Glittering at Night|
The next day, I had a chance to visit some areas outside the city's specific zones. These visits cemented the fact that Pyinmana region was transformed into Nay Pyi Taw in a matter of few years. For a moment, I could hardly believe how such a place could be transformed into a major city. The natives would also have found it hard to believe the change in fate of their small town within a few years. One day they were living in thatched huts and walking on horse-cart paths and the next day, they were forced to move into more isolated areas and witness their homes quickly replaced by huge city infrastructures.
People in these 'old' areas of Pyinmana or the 'real natives' are generally kind and friendly, and they do not seem to have the slightest idea of what important political decisions were been made in the Hluttaw just a few kilometers away from them. I was offered to take a rest and have a cup of tea by a native while I was looking for a nearby restroom. For half-an-hour, I had a friendly conversation with the host family and just as my speculation; I learnt how these locals had seen a significant change in their way of life in a few years. I offered them some money as a gratitude for their accommodation but they refused my offer politely, telling me that they appreciate 'visitors coming from other regions.'
The window view was instantly replaced into a blurry image of wild trees and slowly, I drifted into sleep.