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Taung Kalat Monastery, Mount Popa by Adventurocity

Taung Kalat is a volcanic plug that rises dramatically above the southwestern slope of Mount Popa, a stratovolcano that last erupted in 442 BCE. Mount Popa is the abode of Burma's most powerful spirits, known as Nats. The Buddhist monastery, seen here on the peak of the 737-metre Taung Kalat, is reached via 777 steps. At the base of the Taung Kalat Shrine are statues depicting the 37 Mahagiri Nats.

Mount Popa is a popular pilgrim destination on the full moon of Nayon (May/June) and Nadaw (November/December). Residents from the nearby town of Kyaukpadaung hike the mountain en masse in December and during the Thingyan Festival of the Burmese New Year. (Brian K. Smith photo.)

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Stupa Sunrise, Bagan

Sunrise over the stupas of Burma's ancient capital, Bagan (Pagan). Located in the central plains on the banks of the Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy) River, 145 km southwest of Mandalay, Bagan has also been called Arimaddanapura or Arimaddana (the City of the Enemy Crusher), Tambadipa (the Land of Copper), and Tassadessa (the Parched Land).

Rivaling Angkor in Cambodia, this vast plain of over 3,000 temples is breathtaking at any time of day. Most were built in the 1000s to 1200s, when Bagan was the capital of the First Burmese Empire, at which time it became a cosmopolitan centre of Buddhist scholarship.

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Burma Burma, or the Union of Myanmar, is the largest country in mainland Southeast Asia. It has an ethnically diverse population whose culture, heavily influenced by its neighbours, is based on Theravada Buddhism. In traditional villages, the monastery is the centre of cultural life.

Due to Burma's economic and political isolation, visiting the country is like travelling back in time. While it is one of the region's poorest nations, its people are warm and the country is rich in experiences.

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