Around here, we love stories about creepy places, from abandoned coal mines and ramshackle buildings, to whole subdivisions classified as EPA superfund sites.
But we just found one of the strangest and creepiest places on earth, and it is huge. In fact it the size of a city. In fact, it is a city. But what makes it so creepy? With an area of almost six times the size of the Big Apple, almost nobody has ever heard of it.
Officially founded in 2006, the city of Naypyidaw is the new capital city of the nation of Myanmar, also known as Burma. The government broke ground on the city in 2002, and moved most of its administrative offices there in 2005. The name was officially pronounced to the world on March 27, 2006. This is also Myanmar’s Armed Forces Day.
Around the world, the move to construct a new capital and then relocate the entire national government seemed odd, but it certainly is not without precedent.
In the 1950’s Brazil hired world renowned architect Oscar Niemeier to design and build an entire city to become its new federal capital. That city became Brazilia. The thinking behind the relocation was to put the federal government in a more geographically central location, which would make it more accessible to the largest number of citizens.
It is suspected that North Korea supplied the architectural and construction support for Naypyidaw to Myanmar. Myanmar’s government is considered one of the most repressive in the world and has certain ideological leanings that parallel those of North Korea.
The city was designed to hold an initial population of one million people, but aside from government employees and some support personnel, it has not reached full occupancy yet.
The move to relocate was probably driven by a desire, like Brazil, to make it more accessible to all its regions, however, the Myanmar government is extremely unpopular in the region, and also suffers from paranoia at an institutional level. Since they are bordered by five other nations, it may have been an attempt to shore up defenses from possible invasions.
Another theory about the move suggests that Than Shwe, the then head of the military government who was known to be deeply superstitious, moved the city because of astrological advice. An astrologer reportedly told Shwe that an attack by the Americans was imminent, and urged that he escape Yangon as quickly as possible. He took her word. Clearly, the rest of the country did not.
Since the city has opened for business, few if any outsiders have seen it. The Guardian newspaper calls it “an eerie picture of post-apocalypse suburban America; like a David Lynch film on location in North Korea.”
Which of course, just made us want to plan our next vacation there.
The old capital of Myanmar, and before that, Burma, was a city known as Yangon. That city is still where most outsiders travel and stay, even today.
What do you think about this brand new city? Would you like to visit it someday? Have you ever seen such a strange, abandoned place? Please share your thoughts with us here.