Myanmar Jan 2004 (Velvia)
Images of Bagan shot on Velvia.

Bagan, about 560km northwest of Yangon, is one of the richest archaeological sites in Asia. Bagan was the capital of the first unified Empire of Anawrahta founded in 849 AD. After unifying the country, Anawrahta introduced Tharavada Buddhism to his people. The Empire flourished from 1044 to the 13th century. Within an area of 42 km, thousands of pagodas, temples and monasteries were built. An earthquake in 1975 reduced half of the payas, or holy places, into rubbles. According to the Myanmar Archaeological Department, currently there are 2217 standing payas in Bagan today.

Old Bagan used to be an idyllic village where houses and stalls stood side by side with ancient Buddhist monuments. After the crackdown of the 1988 Uprising, Yangon, Bagan and Mandalay were selected to be opened for tourism as part of the effort to restore the country's tarnished image and to earn hard currency. In May 1990, about 5000 people from Old Bagan were evicted from houses, where they have lived in for generations, with barely any notice or compensation. They were relocated to a dusty, arid and almost treeless plain about 3.5km south of Old Bagan. In place of the village were built upmarket resorts to cater to the tourists. Today, when some of the residents mention the old days, you could still sense their quiet resentment and bitterness towards the high-handed treatment.
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