Salay and Mount Popa

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We visited Salay after the market at Chauk as we were following the Irrawaddy River south from Bagan. It seems to be an important historic town and we were there to see the Salay Yoke Sone Monastery and its museum. The main building is made entirely of wood, and such old (built 1882) wooden buildings are rare. The chief monk here was very famous and important as his monastery has four sets of stairs to the main platform.

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Inside the monastery was a collection of artifacts of the period the monastery was in use. And in the museum was a large collection of Buddhist manuscripts, all carefully folded up and unseen.

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Unlike most Buddhist monasteries, this one did not have its walls covered with pictures and carvings telling the story of Buddha. Instead, there were exquisitely carved wooded sculptures outside reminding the monks of the dangers of people enjoying themselves!

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Across the road from the monastery was this old temple (shown above), and in town we stopped for a drink in the gardens of Salay House, close by the riverbank. This is a restored colonial period property where the merchant’s office upstairs has been converted into a small museum.

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Our next stop was eastwards towards the extinct volcano of Mount Popa, shown in the left side of the photo below. The collection of gold-topped stupas on the lump of rock on the right is the monastery of Taung Kalat. Sometimes  Taung Kalat is confusingly called Mount Popa.

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We were supposed to climb up to this monastery, but we did not feel so inclined and instead ate a late lunch at the Popa Mountain Resort with Taung Kalat as our view.

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© Helen Gray 2021