In 2005, the world was taken by surprise when the ruling junta of Myanmar suddenly transferred the country’s capital from Yangon to the secretly built city of Naypyidaw, more than 300 km to the north. The reason for sinking in more than $5 billion to build a lavish and expansive capital in the middle of nowhere has never been officially stated; some speculated that the tycoons were concerned with the possibility of foreign attack, as Yangon is on the coast and therefore vulnerable to an amphibious invasion.
Ten years after its inauguration, the city remains austere and lifeless and parts are still under construction. In a country of persistent power shortages and blackouts, Naypyidaw’s street lamps brightly illuminate the night. Newly built shopping malls sell foreign goods unaffordable for the average Burmese and on the city’s outskirts lies a modern and tidy zoo where penguins live in air-conditioned houses. I had the opportunity to enter this restricted area twice in 2012, each time less than 24 hours as foreigners are unwanted there. I brought you back postcards from a ghost town.