Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Burma: Mt. Popa

We hired a driver to go out to Mt. Popa on New Years Day. Mt. Popa is a 1,400 foot volcanic tower that can be climbed by going up 777 steps. Mt. Popa is a sacred site for nat (spirit being) worship. You can offend the nat if you wear red or black on the mountain, bring meat, or say bad things about other people. The nat may then curse you with bad fortune. I like to wait until at least mid-January to be cursed with bad fortune, so we dressed accordingly. Hopefully the nat will take a joke about this cat drinking Buddha's water.

I somehow managed to miss the sentence in the guidebook that described Mt. Popa as a “monkey-tastic” volcanic mountaintop temple. Like most of the temples in Burma, you must take off your shoes when you enter. This meant climbing the 777 steps barefoot and dodging the piles of droppings left by the creepy nipple monkeys on Mt. Poopa (as we subsequently named it). The monkeys are talented little thieves. I saw one steal a water bottle right out of someone's pocket and then just stare at the person smugly as it opened the bottle. 

At the top of Mt. Popa, you can make a $100 donation and have a painted plaque with your name put on the wall, but you really have no way of knowing that they’ll ever paint it and put it up. Like the Buddha hair under the temple in Yangon, I guess I’m just going to have to take their word for it. Overall, Mt. Popa is pretty, but probably not worth the 2 hour drive unless you go on your way to somewhere else. If you do go, please let me know if there is actually a Sara Schroeder plaque there or if I got scammed by some very jolly looking monks.

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