Under construction

This photo from Hpa-an in the Karen State does two quick things. First, it gives an indication of the common techniques, safety protocols, construction skills and general style of the building industry in Myanmar today. Second, it helps to illustrate what we all anticipate will be one of the next phases in the country’s political and economic transformation: construction.


For now, perhaps the aspect of construction that is most pressing for many visitors to the country concerns hotels. With room rates pushing to sometimes absurd levels ($135 to book online for Yangon’s Asia Plaza Hotel, anyone?) the quiet hope is that the big bucks entering hoteliers pockets will be ploughed into renovations and new premises.

In the meantime complaints about Yangon hotels must be at an all time high. Check out this selection from tripadvisor.com. “Never again”, “charmless”, “over-priced”, “awful” and “infested with mosquitos”: and that’s just the one hotel. Many get an even worse rap! Although, to be fair, somebody else tells the complainers that it’s “not that bad”.

Before too long major hotel developments — not to mention every other type of new and refurbished building imaginable — will be having their ribbons cut. Myanmar is building up for whatever happens next…

This micro-post is based on observations in Myanmar, January-February 2013.