First tourist snapshots from Myanmar (Burma)'s new capital

Boing Boing reader Xander says,

In 2005, the secretive and paranoid military government of Myanmar (Burma) decided to move the capital city from Yangon (the old British 'Rangoon') to an empty tract of farmland in the country's north.

Thousands of soldiers, government officials and regular citizens were packed up and moved to the new capital city, which was christened Naypyidaw. The government has never publicly explained the move. Most journalists, even Burmese ones, are banned from the city, and there are very few photos of the capital available online.

In July, my friend Austin and his fellow traveler Will became the first uninvited, non-diplomatic foreigners to stay overnight in Naypyidaw's hotel -- in effect, the first tourists. Austin's striking and beautiful photographs of the city can now be seen on his blog.



  1. I’ll still call the capital ‘Rangoon’.

    Any advice on what to call the new town of ‘Naypyidaw’ in English :-)

  2. The village where Nay-Pyi-Daw is called Kyat-Pyay meaning ‘Chicken-Run’ but the town is called Pyinmana meaning ‘Don’t stop even if you are lazy’.

  3. ========================
    Kyat-Pyay and Pyin-ma-na

    “Kyat-Pyay” is spelled ka-gyi ya-yit pa-that tha-way-thto pa-yauk ya-yit wit-sa-pauk in Burmese.

    The “Kyat” in “Kyat-Pyay” is not spelled ka-gyi ya-yit ka-that, which would be romanized as “Kyet”, not “Kyat”. “Kyet” is chicken.

    The “Kyat” in “Kyat-Pyay” is rather spelled ka-gyi ya-yit pa-that, which could mean imp (a noun). An imp is a small mischievous demon (maybe some kind of “nat” in Burmese).

    The “Pyay” in “Kyat-Pyay” is spelled tha-way-hto pa-yauk ya-yit wit-sa-pauk, which means “run” (a verb).

    The word “Kyat-Pyay” could mean “small demons run”, “the place where small demons run”, “the place to which small demons run” or “the place from which small demons run”.

    Those who lived in the former “Kyat-Pyay” village should know what the name of their village meant.

    The town “Pyinmana” is spelled pa-yauk ya-pint nya-ga-lay-that wit-sa-pauk ma na-nge ye-cha wit-sa-pauk in Burmese.

    The “Pyin” in “Pyinmana” is spelled pa-yauk ya-pint nya-ga-lay-that, which is a kind of tree from which we get good wood.

    “Pyin-ma” is the female “Pyin” and “Pyin-ga-do” is the male “Pyin”. “Pyin-ga-do” is called iron wood in the geography books written in English during the British days (before 1948).

    “Pyin-ma-na” could mean “near Pyin-ma”. It could have been romanized as “Pyin-ma Na”.

    Compare “Myit-kyi-na” (the capital city of Kachin State). It could have been romanized as “Myit-kyi Na”. “Myit-kyi Na” means “near the Big River”, that is, near the Irrawaddy River. (Myit= river; kyi = big; na = near)

    We pronounce “Pyin-ma Na” as if it was “Pyin Ma-Na”. That is like “Pyin not stopping”. (Na = rest; stop.) That would mean “Pyin does not stop” or “We do not stop at Pyin”. But that is not the case.

    Look at “Tatmadaw”. It is pronounced “Tat Ma-daw” (Tat not-royal). Tat= Armed Forces; Ma = Not; Daw = Royal; Ma-daw = Not Royal. But the real meaning is “Tat-ma Daw” (Main Tat Royal). Tat = Armed Forces; Ma = Main (Major); Tat-ma = Main Armed Forces; Daw = Royal (Great).

  4. ========================
    Kyat-Pyay and Pyin-ma-na [Addendum]

    Look at “Lanmadaw”. It is pronounced “Lan Ma-daw” (Lan Not-royal). Lan = Road; Ma =Not; Daw = Royal; Ma-daw = Not-royal.

    But the real meaning is “Lan-ma Daw” (Main Road Royal = the main royal road). Lan = Road; Ma = Main; Lan-ma = Main Road; Daw = Royal

    As to Pyinmana, the “Pyin” in “Pyin-ma Na” is not spelled pa-yauk ya-yit nga-that wit-sa-pauk, which would mean “lazy”. The correct spelling is pa-yauk ya-pint nya-ga-lay-that wit-sa-pauk, which means a certain kind of tree.

    Pyin-ma (Lagerstroemia speciosa) and Pyin-gado (Xylia dolabriformis Benth) are regarded as good wood.

  5. I’ve once met “exiled Prince Shwebomin” in a pub in Leytonstone, London. He was quite a character, and yes, I was sober…


Comments are closed.