If you’ve been to Mandalay, you might have noticed all the great custom-designed jeeps driving around the city. But why are they here?
In the middle of Myanmar is Mandalay, a large urban and economic centre in the country. And for some reason, this became the centre of custom jeep culture – one of the coolest and quirkiest things about this place.
The Jeeps are locally built. They aren’t, as I initially suspected, a relic from the second world war or some ex-military sell-off, nor are they imported from overseas.
The Burmese company that made the jeeps closed quickly in 2011, after 12 years of business, when the country began to allow imports of foreign cars. The Burmese jeeps became too expensive, and they died out.
What it means is the ones left behind are becoming collector’s items. They come in all different colours, each one splattered with stickers and decals, making each one a unique find. A funny little facet of an already curious place.
In June/July 2012, Cindy and I had the privilege to explore Myanmar, a country whose doors to tourism were just beginning to creak open, allowing visitors to take a peek at some of the treasures inside. Myanmar blew me away as one of the most special countries i’d ever visited – I wrote about the country’s culture and spirit here.