As pooped as were this morning after ballooning, Nyi Nyi convinced us to take a 1 ½ hour ride up to Mount Popa, where there is a shrine built on the very top of a sheer rock precipice. The idea is to climb the 778 steps to the top, admire the view and (of course) bring an offering to Buddha and/or one the subsidiary spirits.
Then walk down. I announced that I absolutely would NOT make it to the top, but would start out. Soon it became apparent that there were young mothers carrying babies, old men (really old men), old women crippled with arthritis, young couples, little kids—all carrying some sort of offering like flowers or fruits. All, of course, barefoot. All making the climb while chatting and laughing.
I am posting this from Mandalay...having just had my first ever Thai massage to ease my legs cramps and limping. Wait til you hear (and see the pix of) what happened to us on the cruise--try running aground, being stranded in the middle of the river overnight, then having the rescue boat fail to show up--a dead battery. Fun!!