Bagan to Mount Popa

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The Art of Lacquer Ware
 

Came to Burma via Yunnan in China in the 1st century A.D.  Raw lacquer is tapped from the thitsie trees. We saw two types being made.  The first and more expensive option, uses a bamboo and horse hair frame for items requiring greater flexibility and durability

The second uses a wooden base.  The basic structure is coated with a layer of lacquer and clay, then put in a cool place to dry

 

Three or four days later the item is sealed with a  paste of lacquer and ash, the fineness of the ash determining the quality of the finished ware

The ash may come from sawdust, paddy husk or even cow dung.  When dry the object is polished

Over time it is given several coats of lacquer and is black in colour.  Cheaper items will then be painted or decorated with gold leaf

 Expensive items are decorated by means of inlay, engraving, painting and polishing.  Red, yellow, blue, and gold are the most frequently used colours.   Multi coloured ware takes about six months to complete and involves a dozen or more stages to manufacture
Road Trip
It felt good to be driving through the countryside on a day trip to Mount Popa

En route most drivers will stop at a coconut plantation where palms are tapped for sap and palm sugar candy called jaggery is made

 

Palm seed being ground into oil

The people here were so nice that we bought too much  candy in fancy little baskets and had to give it away

 

Mount Popa  Myanmar's Mount Olympus - Home of the Gods
From a distance we got an inkling of the climb to come.   It couldn't possibly be as many steps as Mandalay Hill....could it
Popa Taungkalot

Sits on a 2500 year old volcanic plug almost 5000' above the fertile Myibgyan  Plain.  A covered walkway sheltered visitors from the sun for the 25 minute climb.  Unfortunately we did not encounter the Yeti, hermit monks in tall hats that the guide books refer to 

Monkeys swarmed all over the street and temple steps.

The views across the plain are fantastic on a clear day, even this day it was pretty impressive.  Eventually we reached the top most shrine

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