“Simcity” – A visit to Nay Pyi Taw

Imagine you were playing Simcity. Large swathes of grassland. Every now and then you plonked a massive building, moved on, then plonked another … etc. That’s how Nay Pyi Taw, the capital of Myanmar (Burma) looks like.

Supported supposedly with China’s aid of about US$10 billion, the Myanmar government built its parliament, official buildings for its bureaucracy, and a series of massive hotels for visiting tourists. Except that tourists hardly ever think of Nay Pyi Taw for a visit, and the few times the hotels do get full is when they have large conferences. Once the conference is done, the local staff are sent back and hotels close down sometimes for several months at a time.

The hotel staff are mainly brought in from the nearby villages and work on a variety of jobs from kitchen to garden tasks. “They have to multitask since there’s a shortage of labour”, said one of the hotel managers.

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The highways in Nay Pyi Taw have up to six or eight lanes but look deserted except for the occasional motorcycle or minivan.

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