Nay Pyi Taw–What if They Built a Capital and Nobody Came?

The Surreal Solitude and Mind-Boggling Modernity of Nay Pyi Taw

By Richard Luhrs

When one thinks of Southeast Asian cities, the usual – and usually accurate – image is of teeming millions struggling to make do with woefully inadequate and/or outdated infrastructure. Many of the region’s capitals (Bangkok, Jakarta, Manila, Hanoi) have become bywords for the pollution-choked, traffic-jammed, beggar-ridden and perpetually flooded Third World metropolis of the twenty-first century – urban centers pushed far beyond their limits on every conceivable level.

Until 2006, the capital of Myanmar – Yangon – perfectly fit that stereotype. A decade later it fits it even more perfectly; but the Golden Land’s largest city and unrivaled commercial center is no longer also its seat of government.

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Hitting the Han 4 Rivers Bike Trail–Pain, Rain & Staying Sane

By Jenna Kunze

I had never ridden by bike further than the next neighborhood over before I embarked on a cycling trip that would take me across a country I’d just moved to, with people I’d just met.

The trail that connects Seoul to Busan is called the “Han 4 Rivers Trail,” a namesake derived from, yes, the four rivers that string together the world’s longest biking trail  (a non-verified claim). It was opened in 2011 as a $17 billion undertaking. The trail follows the Han, Daejeon, Guem, Nakdong, and Yeongsang rivers. Connecting the two largest cities in Korea, Seoul and Busan, the path also snakes through the fourth largest metropolitan area of Daegu.

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The Missing Wallet Part 2: When Security Catches Security

By Iwazaru

Editor’s note: After having his wallet seemingly stolen, the author now tries to get some answers with the help of police and security staff. Those answers prove surprising.

Once I had changed into the sauna uniform, ochre t-shirt and long shorts, the owner led me into the sweltering main room where we wound through snoring, scratching and shifting bodies to a raised wooden platform under which the owner deftly ducked and pointed to a single spot next to a man sleeping flat on his back. I told him it was too hot to sleep but he motioned under with both hands and said, “rest, rest.” Resistance seemed futile–and I had nowhere else to go–so I lowered myself into the corner space and cursed my night of decision-making.

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Seeing No Evil–the Case of the Vanishing Wallet

By Iwazaru

At 2 a.m. on a cold night in late December, I finally decided to enter the Suseo Hyundai Ventureville building, which is attached to Suseo Subway Station and has, among other things, banks, a 24-hour convenience store and sauna, restaurants and shops. I had put myself in this situation by leaving a social engagement in central Seoul a bit late and riding the subway until it stopped, at which point I felt confident that I’d just hail a taxi for the 30-mile ride to my apartment in the bucolic outskirts.

Alas, my plans fell apart.

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Becoming a Korean Lawyer–the Battle Between the Bar and Law School

By K. Koo

After finishing my undergraduate studies in New England two years ago, I came back home to pursue a career in law. All had been going well, and in November, I was preparing for final exams to finish my second year in law school. But on December 2, most my classmates reported hearing rumors that that the Ministry of Justice had put an embargo on a press conference to be held the next day. Reasons for the embargo had not been given. All we heard was that the conference would be about the phasing-out of the Judicial Exam (aka the Korean Bar).

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