Photo Journal: Hiking Through Monkey Popa in Bagan, Myanmar
Do you remember that movie The Next Karate Kid with Mr. Miyagi-san and Hillary Swank? (Please please don’t tell me you were still in the womb when that movie came out because recently I’ve been meeting mid-90’s babies left and right and it’s been making me feel like the Crypt keeper. All I need is some Metamucil and a cane.)
Well in the movie, Mr. Miyagi sends a young angst-filled Hillary to a monastery to learn peace, coordination, self-control. And just two short weeks later she emerges a wise young lady who, in the face of high school bullies, replaces her punches with eerily calm quips like:
Ambition without knowledge is like a boat on dry land,”
The answer’s only important if you ask the right question,”
If only I had the chance to join those patient and nirvanic monks, I wouldn’t have so many bloody-knuckle scars on my giant man-hands today. (And if for nothing, I would loved to have danced with those monks to the Cranberries. Please enlighten yourself here)
Anyhow, so one of the highlights of our Myanmar trip was our hike to Mount Popa’s Buddhist monastery, which is a 777-step trek to the top of a volcanic plug. Our slow and steady journey up the majestic plains of central Burma took us 2,417 feet up to the top of this ancient monastery of Popa Taungkalat. With beautiful golden stupas jutting into the clouds, Popa Taungkalat Monastery is a stunning example of human architecture merged with its natural setting. Like the thousands of pilgrims that make the journey up the hardened-lava formed peak in search of peace and zen, we were there to find solace from the seemingly endless hum of our lives. And as we trekked, our laughter and huffs of effort fell away to silent reflection.
And it was almost like I was right alongside Miyagi-san training for an impromptu fight along the docks with the highly-coveted praying mantis move. Except instead of dancing monks there were lots of dancing monkeys. Who pooed all over the place. In which I stepped on at least 7 times. Barefoot.
Hence, my glorious title: “Hiking through Monkey Popa”. Get it? Get it??