The government of Myanmar (Burma) moved the capital of the country from Yangon (Rangoon) to Pyinmana, 200 miles North. Some speculate that the move was suggested by an astrologer (this is not uncommon in Myanmar) and others say the move was to make the country less vulnerable to possible attack by sea from U.S. forces.
This move will greatly affect Yangon, which was a bustling capital as most of the money heads North. Almost anyone who makes a “good” living in Myanmar is connected to the government in some way. Foreign embassies will most likely be required to relocate and no longer be able to quickly serve the tourist population with visas, extensions or legal help. Tourists will continue to be routed through Yangon for international flights (although the airport near Mandalay does handle a few international flights) which leaves me wondering what kind of town Pyinmana will be. The Times UK calls it “[a] city that only a year ago was little more than a collection of straw huts and rice paddies.”
This is a very interesting development and I am curious to see how things develop. Will Mandalay open up to more international flights? Will foreigners be allowed into the new capital? If someone needs to extend a visa how will he get into Pyinmana and will there be hotels? Right now it sounds as if personnel were moved overnight and were not permitted to take their families, where does that leave tourists? And last of all, what will happen to the democratic activist and Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, who is still being held under house arrest in Yangon?