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Myanmar (Burma): Mount Popa

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Mount Popa | Myanmar (Burma) | Asia

[Visited: March 2006]

While approaching the area, you suddenly see an odd shape sticking out of the landscape. There can be no mistake, that is Mount Popa, which can be visited on the long way from Bagan to Inle Lake, or separately of course. It is the foremost place of worship for so-called nat, or spirits, in Buddhist Myanmar. There is a small village at the foot of Mount Popa, which looks attractive from a distance, but has grown into a string of shops and restaurant for visiting worshippers. In fact, walking up the stairs to the top of the mountain, the shops continue.

Picture of Mount Popa (Myanmar (Burma)): Mount Popa, extinct volcano, sticking out of the Burmese landscape

More than anywhere else I visited in Myanmar, Mount Popa seems commercialized, which to me is an uneasy combination of religion and down-to-earth money making. Obviously, trying to make money from tourists is fine, but by far most of Mount Popa visitors are serious believers, who come here to make sure their relationship with spirits remains positive. This is a place where nat, or spirits, live, and there are all kinds of superstitions as to what you can wear, say or do on this mountain in order not to displease the nat.

Picture of Mount Popa (Myanmar (Burma)): Glistening silvery pavillion on top of Mount Popa

Walking through the string of shops, escaping the monkeys that can never be trusted, brings you higher on the volcano. When you reach the top, you suddenly realize the height you have covered - the view is great on all sides. The temples are of an especially flashy style, with an overkill of gold, silver, shining stuff, dazzling lights, mirrors, and so forth. The most interesting bit was perhaps a temple with spirits looking out to the visitor, money sticking out of all their sides. It should come as no surprise that here, too, the requests for donations thrive.

Picture of Mount Popa (Myanmar (Burma)): Mount Popa: glistening golden stupa right on top of the extinct volcano
Picture of Mount Popa (Myanmar (Burma)): Nat room with spirits like wax figures of Madame Tussaud
Picture of Mount Popa (Myanmar (Burma)): Burmese girl seeking peace on Mount Popa
Picture of Mount Popa (Myanmar (Burma)): Smaller stupa of Mount Popa
Picture of Mount Popa (Myanmar (Burma)): Golden stupa just under the top of Mount Popa
Picture of Mount Popa (Myanmar (Burma)): The roof of the walkway leading up to Mount Popa
Picture of Mount Popa (Myanmar (Burma)): Eggman in the village of Mount Popa
Picture of Mount Popa (Myanmar (Burma)): Colourful houses at the foot of Mount Popa
Picture of Mount Popa (Myanmar (Burma)): Walkway leading up to Mount Popa

Around the World in 80 Clicks

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