This journey was different, not only because this was the road to Mandalay, something of a legend in my mind thanks to a poem by Rudyard Kipling.
Thinking at Dusk
No, on this evening, I woke up in a dream. The first I saw were some clouds illuminated in the distance. I pondered. I thought this must be an oil refinery with a lit gas flume, with such brightly lit clouds. We journey another for a further 20 minutes as the sky continued to get brighter, but I could tell, this was still a long way off. I was convinced this must be a rather large gas flume, in a Mt Doom sort of a way...
And then I was then rudely awakened by an immigration checkpoint, a surprise to me, as there was no border here ... this is the middle of Myanmar. So passport out for 10 minutes of pleasantries with the ‘immigration’ officials. Back on the bus and back to my dream...
We went on, and I started to see a golden spire rise through the landscape as we approached the illuminated clouds. Maybe this wasn't a gas flume ? Maybe it was a another Golden Paya (Stupa), of which there are so many in Burma ? But this must be huge to be able to see it so far off ! A few minutes later, after struggling to see the movement of a flame, I settled for the idea that it must be a massive Paya. And then I asked the guy sitting in front of us, one of the few awake on the bus. He told me it was Naypyidaw, the new capital of Myanmar.I had discovered Disneyland for the Junta Generals. A model town for model dictators. A nice place to escape from the realities that they live (and run) a third world country. These guys, thanks in no small part to the $6 billion in oil and gemstone exports, have built themselves an exclusive new capital.
And the crowning jewel is a freshly built Paya, now the largest in Myanmar to somehow legitimise the capital in the eyes of the devoutly buddhist people of Burma. There are the large tree lined streets, with trees under 2 years old, and its all well lit even the numerous streets with plots lying empty. Its got its own ‘beach resort’ style hotels and restaurants. There is nothing less than ‘Villa’ style housing. And if its missing a golf course, I am sure its going to get one soon. Naturally it comes with 24/7 electricity, while the rest of Myanmar suffers load sharing, never-mind the dysfunctional roads, communication, sewage and water systems.
Maybe a small amount of the $6bn to repair this part of The Road to Mandalay ?
And you need a permit to enter. Good job I was passing through as I can’t remember ever joining this exclusive club, I don’t earn enough and I don’t have a dinner jacket for the clubhouse.
As you can see, the only way I can express such an inexpressible abuse of power is with sarcasm. In case you didnt know, the rest of the country sits in poverty. Myanmar is ranked as the most corrupt country on earth (tied with Somalia) and its amongst one of the poorest. It has one of the worst human rights records in the World. All thanks to a bunch of Generals sitting in their grand new capital.