Myanmar announced their arrival onto the international stage in style after a spectacular SEA Games opening ceremony highlighting the best of what the formerly reclusive military state has to offer.
The purpose-built 30,000 Wunna Theikdi Stadium was awash with nationalistic fervour, fireworks and pyrotechnics as the country aims to open its doors to the world two years after democratic and economic reforms changed the face of this land.
Present watching the ceremony was His Royal Highness Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah, the president of the Brunei Darussalam National Olympic Council, who has spent part of the past two days mingling with athletes and Team Brunei officials at the Athletes Village.
Leading the line for Brunei's march past at the 27th edition of the Games, which is the first that Myanmar has organised in 44 years, was 14-year-old wushu exponent Mohammad Adi Sya'rani Roslan, a silver medalist at October's Islamic Solidarity Games.
That the opening ceremony was held on 11/12/13, in what astrologers here in Myanmar say is an auspicious date, will not be lost on the locals gathered yesterday - whose chants of "Myanmar, Myanmar!" reverbed around the arena several times.
The most notable when the country's contingent paraded past the masses.
Waving their glow sticks to the rhythms playing as they were treated to high-tempo numbers from local pop stars and a performance from the Royal Myanmar Orchestra, the crowd easily bought into the glitzy Chinese-backed opener - AFP reported that China offered nearly US$33 million in technical assistance for the Games, including for the opening and closing ceremonies.
"We are fully prepared for the Games and all the competitions will be held in accordance with SEA Games Federation rules," promised Myanmar's Minister for Sports U Tint Hsan.
A total of 460 gold medals are up for grabs in 33 sports, with the Games having started earlier this month with sports such as chinlone, football and wushu.
Eight former Myanmar gold medalists from years past served as torch bearers in a relay before passing the Games' torch to a bare-chested archer to light the symbolic Games flame, a fire which will burn day and night during the next week and a half of action for 9,000 athletes.
Perched atop the contingents in a chariot, the archer fired a lit arrow to a lotus-shaped cauldron high in the stadium, and though it lit up before the arrow had left his bow, that will hardly matter for the organisers - who are sure to produce another equally spellbinding show at next Sunday's closing ceremony.