As we were talking…
A conversation about Myanmar came up yesterday on a travel-related list I read. Specifically, someone wanted to know if it was worth the considerable effort (not to mention the expense) of making a trip to Bagan rather than stay in Yangon. I replied with enthusiasm.
“Of course you must go to Bagan,” I wrote, “unless you plan another, longer visit to Myanmar, when you will be able to spend longer there and absorb the special atmosphere”. Because, of course, we have wonderful memories of our time there a couple of years ago.
We marvelled at the fine restoration, ongoing with the support of UNESCO.
We stood back and admired figures of Buddha unlike any we’ve seen before. Here, in the Ananda temple, four enormous statues stand facing the four points of the compass. I well remember catching sight of them one by one as we entered that dark temple, not knowing what treasures lie within.
And even though we weren’t lucky enough to see a magnificent sunset as shown in the travel books, we’ll never forget standing on the top of that terrace and watching, waiting for the sun to go down…
How awful then, to learn of the earthquake today, which hit with a powerful force and damaged “up to a hundred” of these amazing temples and stupas. Whilst we learned about the fate of the Italian towns hit by a similar fate this morning, we knew nothing of the events in and around Bagan.
Of course, it’s not the first time an earthquake has hit that area of Myanmar. Many of the temples were already damaged – hence the restoration work ongoing.
Things can be repaired.
It’s the people who are on my mind tonight. The delightfully friendly people in Bagan who made us so welcome in their town.
I can’t imagine how frightening it must be, wherever in the world an earthquake strikes.