After our balloon flight and a short break in our hotel for the breakfast, around 8.30 a.m. we left by car toward Mt. Poppa. Before getting there,
we stopped in a place where the locals produce different product from peanuts (oil) and of juice's palm (spirits and candies). It is said that these
candies have an effect similar to Viagra.
Monte Poppa is a very famous place, defined Olympus of Burma. It's an extinguished vulcan, 1518 metres tall, consecrated especially to Nat cult, that have chosen it as their dwelling, according to tradition. Nat are spirits with power to help, but also to hurt human beings. During their celebrations, medium (often they are homosexual, dressed and don't married) are possessed by spirits. The alcohol, very high volume music, songs and dance help to overtaking.
At heart of the mountain, inside the Mahagiri temple, are exposed mannequins representing 37 Nats. The spirits are person which in the far past died in a violent way, reason why they are restless. Their cult is very diffused among Burmese, even if it doesn't belong to Buddhism. When one tourist asked one of the visitors that brought gifts to spirits (fruit, alcohol, money): "Considering that you are Buddhist, do you believe in Nats?", the answer was: "I don't believe, but it's better to keep good relationship with them".
On the top of the mountain, you arrive with stairs, barefoot. You go up for 750 metres and you reach the top you can find at 1.500 metres on the sea level. The route is very interesting, because of the changing typology of stairs and you are accompanied by many monkeys. You have to pay attention: monkeys almost stole sun glasses to my wife. At the top there is a plateau, a kind of square on which there are numerous temples. Everything is very shiny due to the effect of the mirrors that were used to make the facades and the neon signs. The atmosphere was pleasant and spiritual.
After seeing what there was to see, we sat on a wall to take a break. A young Burmese couple approached us and asked if we would like to take pictures together. We gladly accepted. We were also able to exchange a few words with them in English. My wife really liked the young woman, so she gave her a small notepad that she had in her bag. The woman bowed and thanked a lot, after which we said goodbye. When it came time to go down, that girl was waiting for us by the stairs and she gave my wife a small plastic photo of a Nat. There we said goodbye again, very cordially. It was a very pleasant meeting that we often remember even after lot of years.