Meditate at one of the world's most legendary monasteries
Taung Kalat, perched on a steep mountaintop high above the Earth below, is one of the most interesting places in Myanmar. At the top of a 777-step staircase, this Buddhist temple is a marvel perfect for perhaps the most insightful meditating experience in a traveler's life.
Clear your mind at the top of an extinct volcano
The epic view may be the most captivating quality of Taung Kalat, but the history of its geography tells a much more exciting story. This lofty temple sits on top of what's believed to be an extinct volcanic plug, which was created centuries ago. Formed by a hardened vent of magma, the volcanic plug is an immense pillar shooting up from the ground. The steep sides make the long staircase the only feasible means of trekking to Taung Kalat at the summit.
The landscape surrounding the volcanic plug is lush and filled with many small streams and quiet rivers. The area is covered in rich, fertile soil that grows dense plant life and forests, making the views from Taung Kalat even more picturesque. Many attribute the overgrown surroundings to the soil's abundant content of volcanic ash. The top of the volcanic plug offers the perfect view of the nearby volcano peak of Mount Topa and the ancient city of Bagan.
Buy from the vendors but beware the macaques
The stairs to the summit of Taung Kalat and the surrounding area is full of vendors eager to offer travelers many interesting trinkets and souvenirs. Many of the vendors actually make a living by providing the service to tourists visiting the temple. However, travelers should watch out for the various groups of monkeys that climb around the stairs and up the steep mountain walls. While they do not pose a serious threat to passers, these mischievous macaques are known for stealing items that are dropped or placed down for too long. Within a few blinks of an eye, a novelty purchased from one of the happy vendors could quickly be snatched up by one of the swinging primates.
Travelers impressed by grand temples and sublime meditating locations may do well to visit the Nan Hua Buddhist Temple in South Africa as well. This massive oriental structure is an attractive destination for a peaceful journey and stands in stark contrast against other inviting, African sights. Travelers may imagine they have traveled to distant China after seeing the stunning architecture at Nan Hua.