In the Bagan Archaeological Zone, which was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites in July last year, roads are quiet, pagodas are empty of pilgrims and tourists, and residents are suffering. The desperation caused by financial distress has been cited as a likely reason for a recent string of burglaries at temples.
The lacquerware business that Hnin Hnin Hlaing ran until March with her husband, U Aung Htoo, has been in the family for 25 years, and the couple have been passing on their skills to three daughters.
Hnin Hnin Hlaing and her husband are making about K5,000 a day, much less than their daily earnings from the lacquerware business. The vegetables they sell are grown at her mother’s village of Bone Lone, on the other side of the Ayeyarwady River from Bagan.
“This year is like we have been cursed or something. No rain, no visitors and no income,” Hnin Hnin Hlaing told Frontier on June 23.