Today started with an opportunity to meditate in the lounge with George, one of our local guides. The guest reports were excellent, but Richard decided to give it a miss.
Our excursion today will take us around 40 kms from Bagan. Our destination, Mount Popa. On route 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. Nearby, an ox pulls a wheel to grind peanut oil, and some of Dawn's guests just have to have a go. Richard's team are more discerning and head for the snacks and freebies without delay.
Continuing on our way towards the Pegu mountain range, we can soon see the Mount Popa volcanic mound, some 1,518 metres above sea level. Mount Popa is best known as a pilgrimage site. On the very top of the mound there are numerous temples and, at the bottom, the Popa Taungkalat shrine is the favoured home of 37 Mahagiri Nats or animist spirit entities. To reach the top you need to remove shoes and socks and climb 777 steps. You also have to evade numerous monkeys that populate the area. Sensibly, no one opts in for this event. Instead, we drive across the valley and up the opposite mountainside to reach the Mount Popa Resort Hotel. Here we've reserved the prime terrace dining tables in order to enjoy lunch with a view. Wine, beer and soft drinks are also included - what could be better.
Needless to say, on the drive home, quite a few folk take a nap.