Sunday, 6 March 2016

Mount Popa - Temple in the Clouds

This is a damn long overdue post (we went in July 2014!) that I could just ignore. But I want to share with you about Mount Popa.

Mount Popa is located about 50km from Bagan in Myanmar.

I was too lazy to find out whether there were any form of public transport to the mountain, so we joined a tour arranged by our hostel in Bagan.

This is the lorry that brought us to Mount Popa:

The lady at the hostel charged us 10,000 Burmese Kyat each for the return trip. On the way to Mount Popa we bitched with the other travellers that she had overcharged us.

As you can see from the photo above, the lorry was not the best form of transport for a group of 7 travellers (8 including the driver). We were all seated at the back of the lorry on the hard floor. I kept on shifting myself because my bum was getting numb.

I was glad the driver made a pit stop at a place where they made food stuff like palm sugar, peanut oil, snacks, etc.:

So much fascination with a guy on a coconut tree!

Sample of some of the products sold at the shop:

Only July and it felt like Chinese New Year!

I don't particularly buy foodstuff when I travel but I bought this assam (tamarind) to support the shop:

Kept this for so long in my home that I had to eventually throw it away when it started moulding.

Mount Popa approaching:

Looks like a fairy tale temple. Somehow Jack & the Beanstalk comes to mind.

Two elephants welcomed us at the entrance of Mount Popa:

According to superstition, pilgrims or travellers to Mount Popa should not wear red, green or black as  those colours are reserved for spirits called Nat who live on the mountain. I wore a grey t-shirt and pants that day.

We had to leave our footwear at the entrance of the temple and enter barefeet. As I mentioned in my previous posts on Myanmar, the temple floors are covered with animal poo and I had to look carefully where I stepped.

I had read beforehand that there are many monkeys on Mount Popa, so I had prepared myself like not wearing anything bright and not carry things like sunglasses or wear a hairband in case the monkeys do a grab and go, just like their counterparts in Uluwatu in Bali.

But I was totally unprepared for the level of aggression of the Mount Popa monkeys.

They hissed and threatened to attack anyone who gives them even the slightest glance. Worst if it's a female monkey carrying a baby because she thinks you want to attack her baby. The best is to ignore them and walk on.

The monkeys was the main reason I didn't take many photos on the way up the mountain because a slight movement like taking out the camera or aiming the camera at an object is deemed as an attack on them and they will start hissing fiercely.

I was so pissed that I was contemplating of having live monkey brains (with wine) for dinner.

Anyway, back to the story.

Signage to show the height of Mount Popa:

At 2,417 metres above sea level, we had to climb many flight of steep stairs to reach the top. 

Rows of shops that we saw on the way up:

Reminds me of Kek Lok Si Temple in Penang which has a similar layout.

We saw shrines and altars like this: 

People who made a donation to the temple had the option to engrave their name on plaques:

I was surprised to see an acquaintance's name on the wall. I snapped a photo and asked him whether it was really him. So busybody.

As you can see on the plaque, some well wishes and pilgrims came all the way from San Francisco, California in the United States of America:

I deduce that a Burmese restaurant owner made a pilgrimage to Mount Popa to offer prayers for his business.

Pagodas at the top of the mountain:

View from the top:

The village at the bottom looked so small:

A man praying so fervently till his forehead touched the ground:

Maybe this man will also put his name on the plaque if his prayers are answered.

All signages are in Burmese:

Couldn't help noticing these yellow bottles:

Still haven't figured out what's inside.

My thighs were aching for a few days after I returned to Bagan and Yangon - something strange because I only get aching thighs after a steep climb. So either the steps in Mount Popa were relatively steep for my level. Or maybe I was climbing at top speed to get away from those darn monkeys.


Jipp Jippsy said...

Cool. Too bad I missed Mount Popa when I went to Bagan last time, thanks to bad planning. Wouldn't miss this place when I go there again.

Julie Lim said...

Hi Jipp Jippsy,

If you missed Mount Popa, then I missed the Inle Lake due to lack of time. Heard that it has got some unique things to see.

Anyway, Mount Popa was nothing to shout about. You didn't miss much.

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