Today, we went on a half day trip to Mount Popa. Those trips are ridiculously easy to organise. Just outside our hostel, we found a travel agency that wanted 10000 kyat for the shared taxi – that’s less than 10$.
The trip was supposed to start at 9am but I think it was at least half past nine until the taxi driver arrived. He clearly wanted to make up for the lost time because he drove twice as quickly as he should have. A couple of times, I was surprised he didn’t lose control over his car.
We overtook everything in our way. Motorbikes, cars, trucks, busses. If there was a motorbike coming the opposite direction, our driver didn’t wait for them to pass. Instead, he gave them a light signal and forced them off the road, hitting the gas pedal as he did so.
It must have been the motion sickness pills because somehow, I fell asleep along the way and didn’t wake up until Mount Popa was visible.
There are different rumours about how many stairs to climb to the top of the mountain. My guidebook says 777 but I’ve heard everything from 720 to 3000. The latter is probably a lie because the climb was much less exhausting than I had expected it to be.
Monkey are waiting for you, your camera and especially your food. If you don’t want to give up your drink, they’ll bare their teeth, hiss at you and even jump at you so you better be careful.
All along the way and at the top, there were small shrines and temples. Surprisingly, we didn’t see many Buddha statues. Most of the temples seemed to be dedicated to the local spirits who are also called Nats.
My guidebook says that climbing Mount Popa without a guide is like watching a Burmese movie without the subtitles – you see everything but have no idea of what’s going on. That was exactly what it felt like. But the shrines were interesting to watch and I loved to see people donate and pray. I could feel that it was a very holy and special place, even if I didn’t completely get the significance of it.
And let’s not forget the view, which was amazing from the top.
Plus, I think the Nats were on our side aftet that visit because we survived the car ride back that was at least as horrible as going there.