Spirit up! Mount Popa and its stories are waiting for you.

Mount Popa is a temple on top of a mountain

dedicated to the 37 nats in Burma. Nats are spirits, that the Burmese also honour besides their Buddhist belief. Most nats have once been human beings and have similar stories of standing up to a king and then being executed.

Before going up mount Popa my guide brought me to a shrine, where all 37 nats are on display. This is a good way of getting familiar with them. Here are some photos:

Nat of the gamblers and drinkers and more nats to his right. Can you see the whisky bottle?

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More nats:

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The blacksmith and his sister to his right. He was executed by burning on a stack, because the king of that time was jealous of him. His sister couldn’t bear the sight and jumped into the fire to die with him:

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The famous Muslim brother nats:

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Mount popa itself is a temple with several Payas on top and the usual Buddha shrines. On the way to the top there are several shrines dedicated to the nats only. And on top you can see nats in some of the shrines besides Buddha. Another reason to go on top is to enjoy the wonderful views from there.

Mount Popa seen from below:

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Some pictures from the top:

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On the way to mount Popa my guide also showed me some of the local produce:

An ox powered well:

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Peanuts (small plants) and sesame (taller plants):

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A man harvesting the sugar-juice from the palm-tree. They make all kinds of delicious cookies from it:

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A dragon-fruit plantation and a dragon-fruit itself:

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On the way we also visited a Buddhist meditation centre. They were overly friendly. I was invited to lunch, allowed to ask everything I ever wanted to know about Buddhism and given permission to take photos. The first one is the entrance, the second one of monks at lunch. There also were nuns here, but they ate separately. The lunch at 11 am is the only meal of the day:

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How to get there: From Bagan, New Bagan or Nyaung U you can rent a taxi to go there, but you would miss the explanations on the nats, wouldn’t see the local produce and the meditation centre. So better to rent a guide on top. My total cost for the guide and the taxi was 60 dollars. But if you’re in a group you can share it.

I had the honour to be shown around by the guide recommended in Lonely Planet: U Thaung Lwin, e-mail tltourguide@gmail.com or goldenrose155@gmail.com, phone 09-400 301 258 or 430 798 44. But easier than mailing or phoning him is to arrange the tour with the travel agent in front of Golden Myanmar Guesthouse in Nyaung U. This travel agent is also very good in helping you with anything else and his English is quite good.

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