Never I though visiting cloisters can be such a exciting experience. Never I though sightseeing old temples can be something attractive… until I saw Mount Popa.
Mount Popa is a huge volcano with a Buddhist cloister at the top. This place I consider to be one of the most interesting constructions I have ever seen. Really, I’ve beeno many beautiful or just intriguing places kind of Salt Mine, Poland, Rathfarnham Castle, Ireland and so on, and this one monastery at the top of the volcano.
Legend has it that inside the cloister there live the most powerful ghosts! They are called „nat” and regarding what local people say there are 37 of them. But the true history of the place is very sad. Hundreds of animas were killed during strange rituals for the sake of the ghosts. I started my trip to Mount Popa from Bagan City.
Its about 50km to get to the monastery from the city of Bagan. I went by bus and I paid about $3. Transport is very cheap there but you the trip took almost 2 hours! Well, the roads are in terrible conditions! I rented a room from some local family and when I was about going out for a bus to the cloister my host stopped me. I was dressed in some black hoodie and flaxen pants. My host said I better don’t go ther dressed like that! According to a legend, if you go to the cloister wearing black, red or green clothes because you may hurt the residents! And their revenge may be cruel.
If you woould like to visit the place remember thet except the scary ghosts you may also mind aggressive monkeys that are real suckers for your equipment! It’s good to have some snacks in your backpack to placate them. Then they are really sweet! Anyways, the view from the top over the forests and surrounding villages is totally breathtaking. But the best time for trip is the turn of May and Jun. Then you may participate in on of solemn festivals led by a nat-possessed half-nat giving other persons an advantage to connect with other ghosts.
They say if you take part in such celebration you’re gonna gain blessing for the next few years. I didn’t participate in the rituals but have seen them during such session. What can I say, everycountry has its own customs.