A dinner to remember
We are heading about 40 kms from Bagan today, our destination in Mount Popa. On the way we stop at a palm sugar workshop where we taste the sugar, see it being pressed, watch how they climb the palm trees to ‘tap’ the sugar and buy handicrafts made from the leaves. We also stop at a colourful local market and among the fruit and vegetables our guide, Aung, shows us boiled eggs cooked in horse poo. Yes, you read that correctly. No one volunteered to have a taste and our guide Nyauw washed his hands before we let him back on the coach.
Mount Popa is a volcano 1,518 metres above sea level and located in central Myanmar in the Pegu Range. The mountain is perhaps best known as a pilgrimage site. The Popa Taungkalat shrine is the favoured home of 37 Mahagiri Nats or animist spirit entities, statues of which can be found at its base. There are numerous Nat temples and relic sites atop the mountain.
To reach the top, you need to remove shoes and socks and climb 777 steps to the summit. We don’t recommend it, not least because the area is populated by many monkeys and you know what they can do! Instead, we are off to have lunch at the Mount Popa Resort overlooking the monastery. The views from here are spectacular. We include beer, wine and soft drinks with lunch and suffice to say the journey home is pretty quiet.
Back on board ANANDA we start sailing along the river. We have a special surprise in store and have arranged our meal on a sandbank. The ship’s crew has done a wonderful job - there are chairs and tables laid with proper china, cutlery and glass, and as we approach the sandbank via two tender boats we are treated to a fabulous firework display! There are so many fireworks that Richard cancels Dawn’s spending money for the foreseeable future. As we come ashore the crew are lighting and releasing huge Chinese lanterns. They must have lit well over 30 and they look brilliant in the dark sky above us.
Naturally we are greeted with a lovely cold glass of Tattinger Champagne. There are candles everywhere, on the tables, in the sand, lighting our way and behind some enormous parasols creating ambient lighting. Chef Sumet and his team have provided the most beautiful Thai style BBQ buffet which is absolutely delicious. The evening will be remembered for a very long time.
Photo: Market on the way to Mount Popa © Dawn Furlong