Nay Pyi Taw, the political capital of Myanmar is a ghost town no more. After Myanmar hosted the ASEAN summit in November last year, it has retained its busyness at least during the day. Its boulevards, usually with either six or eight lanes are busy not only with private cars but also with converted pick-ups, the common public transport in the country. It has daily flights to and from Yangon, ferrying people transacting with government offices. Government employees from Yangon have either settled around the area or work during weekdays and go back to Yangon on weekends. They comprise the “residents” of the city. Despite being alive during the day, the one thing I missed is night life!
The place was different when I first visited in 2013 to attend a conference. Few vehicles around and the people are mostly in the government offices that are far from each other. No public vehicle in sight making it hard for ordinary people especially when they are transacting business with several agencies. All you can see are hotels that seemed to have no guests and rows of unoccupied villas. Wilderness is the apt word to describe the place then. After the ASEAN and the SEA games last year, things have changed.
It has also some places of interest. The former military officials who developed the place constructed a replica of the Shwe Dagon pagoda in the outskirts of the city. People are also flocking in the pagoda as if it were the original Shwe Dagon. On the side of the pagoda is the enclosure for white elephants. Rare white elephants are symbols of power and authority, so when the capital transferred, they went with the leaders of the country to their new home – Nay Pyi Taw. The Jade Museum is another place of interest where the country’s jade and other precious stones are showcased.
The trinity of Yangon, the commercial center; Mandalay, the cultural center; and Nay Pyi Taw, the political capital will be the image of the new Myanmar.