Fresh Start In Nay Pyi Taw

by Jaycee Jung

At first, I did not expect much from Nay Pyi Taw. I only knew that it was the new capital of Myanmar, famous for its 16-lane highway. Still, I was interested to know what this new city had to offer to curious tourists like me interested to discover every intriguing part of the country. I grabbed a couple of brochures from the information counter and began my journey to the majestic new capital of the Golden Land. I documented my adventure in a series of photos, which I hope would be of great help to fellow travellers!

Stepping foot into the city grounds, I realised how spacious Nay Pyi Taw was! It was so different from the highly populated areas like Mandalay, Bagan and Yangon. I heard from my guide that Nay Pyi Taw is six times larger than New York City. No wonder this place is huge! Check out the highway. I was surprised by the lack of vehicles on the road, but I‘m not complaining, as my journey was smooth and calm the entire time.

I have seen the original Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, and I must say, this replica, the Uppatasanti Pagoda is pretty impressive itself. I was told that it is only 30 centimetres shorter than the pagoda in Yangon, but standing in front of the towering structure, I am amazed all the same. The lack of a crowd gave me a great opportunity to take amazing shots at different angles. This photo was my personal favourite.

The interior of the pagoda is made with such detail, I couldn’t stop gazing at the intricately designed ceilings and walls made by skilled craftsmen. ‘How much work have they put in to achieve this design,’ I wondered.

I was impressed by the little replicas of Myanmar’s iconic landmarks I found in the National Landmark Gardens. These replicas look just the same as the original ones, only scaled down to smaller sizes to be able to fit into the display areas of the garden. They were really cute and made for some creative photos. It felt like I had seen them all without needing to visit each place!

I visited Gems Museum and was left in awe. As I stepped into the museum, I was greeted by a shimmer of sparkling gemstones such as ruby, sapphire and jade. The second floor was decorated with stunning glass walls and intricate designs. It was a waste that photography was not allowed, but I foundmyself having fun examining the stones up close. I even learned some fun facts from the English speaking staff, that some of the best quality rubies could be found in a small Mandalay town called Mogok, and that the finest ruby is called ‘pigeon blood’ due to the intense colour of saturated red.

I spent my remaining time at the Zoological Gardens. To my surprise, it was spacious with so many animals around! I saw elephants, leopards, deer, crocodiles, white tigers, kangaroos and even penguins. I later discovered that this was the largest zoo in Southeast Asia and the only zoo in Myanmar to have penguins. As an animal lover, I was delighted to have made this last-minute trip. It was a soothing experience to watch these animals wander in a safe place knowing that they will be handled with care and love by the staff.

My day in Nay Pyi Taw was short, but I actually loved the experience of exploring the city with such little crowds. I could take my time to admire the surroundings better and take a closer look at the tiny attractions as I strolled along the garden compounds.

I finished the day feeling content and relaxed without the need to rush to another destination quickly. For those who are looking for an uncommon experience of touring in a city without traffic congestion and a hectic environment, Nay Pyi Taw is for you.