The Surreal Solitude and Mind-Boggling Modernity of Nay Pyi Taw
By Richard Luhrs
When one thinks of Southeast Asian cities, the usual – and usually accurate – image is of teeming millions struggling to make do with woefully inadequate and/or outdated infrastructure. Many of the region’s capitals (Bangkok, Jakarta, Manila, Hanoi) have become bywords for the pollution-choked, traffic-jammed, beggar-ridden and perpetually flooded Third World metropolis of the twenty-first century – urban centers pushed far beyond their limits on every conceivable level.
Until 2006, the capital of Myanmar – Yangon – perfectly fit that stereotype. A decade later it fits it even more perfectly; but the Golden Land’s largest city and unrivaled commercial center is no longer also its seat of government.