A Journey to Myanmar's Mount Popa
Mount Popa, an extinct volcano 4981 feet above sea level, with a Pedestal like hill called Taung Kalat stands very distinctively on its own in the region of Mandalay. Taung Kalat is home to a Buddhist monastery and temple and has been a pilgrimage site for hundreds of years.
We made our journey from Bagan to Mount Popa in our mini van passing beggars visibly lined up every few meters or so. They lid on the ground with their hands in prayer position or standing in prayer position. We were told they were villagers that had walked to the main road called Byaata to beg passersby for money. They became accustomed to local tourists throwing money out of the window for them over the weekend and holidays. The beggars knew the locals would be driving on this road with their families on those occasions.
On the same road, several rest stops served Palm sugar juice, Palm Beer, fried tempura and Whiskey. All made locally, which made it a great stop to understand the process of how they each is made. This was nicely accompanied with teatime the Burmese way.
After crossing the tollgate to enter Mount Popa area and paying 1,000 kyats, we arrived to a small town bustling with farmers selling fresh produce from the nearby villages. Mostly women with Thanaka on their faces. A locally made cream that cools their face and protects them from the piercing hot sun, as they spend long house of the day trying to sell their produce.
Soon as we arrived to the entrance of Taung Kalat, we took our shoes off and left them in a box as we headed up the stairs barefoot trying to avoid monkey poop, a bloodstain and a generally sticky floor.
Beside the tourist shops that lined up the bottom of the extinct volcano, there was nothing else to see until we had reached the top. Of course the monkeys that were ferociously attacking each other on our way up made for great entertainment and also petrified us.
It was not for another half an hour and 777 steps upwards until we reached the top of Mount Popa to see the monasteries, pagodas and shrines. Besides the obviously high view of the surrounding area, the temple itself raises the obvious question, "how were these temples built so high up during the 6th Century?!"
Heading back down Mount Popa was by far harder on the knees than it was going up, but soon as we reached the bottom, we decided to find a spot for lunch and nothing beats a lunch with a view than at the Popa Mountain resort.
If we could do this trip again we would definitely stay a night at this lavish 5 star resort which had a great pool, bar area, and amazing Asian food. Not to mention the amazing views of Mount Popa itself.
For more on Myanmar check the following blogs, we do recommend the cruise on the Irrawaddy river for sunset, after visiting Mount Popa:
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