PopaMay 25 in Myanmar
We managed a bit more of a leisurely start this morning, only 0730, and had time for a bit of breakfast before we were collected by our car to take us on the roughly 50km drive to Popa.
For those who have never heard of Popa, and I hadn’t before we started looking at coming here, it is a monastery in the mountains that sits at the top of a volcanic plug, it has pretty much vertical sides all the way round and there is a staircase that winds round the outside to get to the top. A small village has grown up around the base of it, no doubt initially to look after the needs of the monks but now probably as much for the tourists as the monks. Visually it is quite spectacular. It’s also a welcome few degrees cooler than Bagan.
There are a couple of different entrances you can use to start your ascent, our driver directed us towards one that was flanked by a couple of painted stone elephants but was still less obvious than the main one, which most people use and where the majority of the lower down monkeys hang out. There are quite a lot of monkeys and they are quite bold, running up to people and grabbing stuff, one tried to grab my bottle of water but soon realised that was a mistake. Now with there being quite a lot of monkeys there is quite a lot of monkey poo, much of which seemed to be on the steps and the flat bits between the steps. But there are guys whose job it is to clean up so apart from the smell it wasn’t too bad. That is until after just a short way when it was time for the socks and shoes to come off and go in a locker (to prevent the monkeys stealing them) and for us to continue in bare feet. If I were to say that Tanya was not happy at having to walk in / around the monkey poo that would be an understatement, but we pushed on.
Now about those steps, I was sure that I’d read one of the quotes that there were about 260, give or take a few, depending on which route you took and I had told Tanya as much. Well it was quickly apparent to me that there were quite a few more than that, 812 to be precise - I counted them on the way down. I don’t think Tanya would have made the ascent if she’d known that, I think I would have been dispatched to take photos and she would have retired to the nearest coffee shop or bar. But I didn’t tell her and she made it, I think she was quite glad she did.
Needless to say we didn’t race to the top and every time we stopped we seemed to get approached by local people asking us to have a photo taken with them. It’s happened at other locations while we’ve been in Myanmar, we don’t mind but it does seem a bit strange that you might end up posing for someone else’s holiday photos. It’s mainly ladies that have asked us so I did suggest to Tanya that perhaps it was my photo they really wanted but they asked her as well because they didn’t want her to feel left out, I can’t put what she said in reply as persons under the age of 18 might be reading but I could perhaps summarise it as, “don’t be silly!!!”.
The view from the top was well worth the climb and the descent was a whole lot easier than the ascent, then it was back in the car for the journey back to the hotel. We got back around 1230 giving Tanya plenty of time to scrub the monkey poo off of her feet and have a couple of beers before we went for a bit of late lunch.Read more