Changes in the past few years
I have been here in Mandalay since 2000 January , 8 years now. And I do notice the changes here. And are these changes for the better or worse ? You decide for yourself.
There has definitely been an influx of people from all over Upper Burma especially Northern Shan State, people of Shan , Tai Shan and ethnic Chinese extraction. The new residential suburbs for both the poor and the well-off seem to have filled up quickly enough. My guess is that we’re up to over a million people here now and if you include the Myitnge,Amarapura and Sagaing areas possibly 1.3 million.The number of resident foreigners, I mean people of countries other than our neighbouring countries is less than 200 probably and that includes a lot of Filipinos working at some schools. Where did I get that number ? Guessed it , I did…. but so would anyone else !
This is where I will say my mind. Most new buildings in this period have been awful, total eye-sores. devoid of character or charm ,just boxy lumps of concrete.
8 years ago there were no modernish shopping centres / malls, now we have a few. The cult of consumerism and hanging out at the mall at arrived at these fair shores. The denizens of Upper Myanmar are taking to it like fish to water but whether they buy enough or can afford enough knick-knacks, greasy burgers and fake designer clothes to keep these places afloat is another question.
Utilities ( electricity / water / roads etc … )
I see no improvement whatsoever !
Now this is tricky one …..Could I say that there has been improvement ? I’d have to say I don’t know . It seems that there have been more so-called “international ” schools set up here . I don’t have to send my daughters there cos I home school them and have them go to a local school for friends etc , so I really don’t know if their being here constitutes an improvement in educational standards or not. A smattering of private computer schools and accounting /book-keeping schools are here too. But I could say that the number of kids a the government colleges and universities has risen and a lot of kids are thinking of going studying abroad but for the majority of them, it would be outside of their family budget.
Lots more mobile phones that cost your left foot are seen nowadays whereas there were only a few in 2000 owned by big-shots and millionaires but they still cost around 2 grand in bucks. There are little phone stalls set up at some places called PCO’s where you can make calls too. Calling overseas still costs a lot. About 5 bucks and more a minute. Around 25 Internet cafes in the downtown area have opened since around 2004 too. So you could say a fair amount of improvement in the communications department.
…….. to be continued