Our next stop was Kyaiktiyo, to see the famous golden rock. This balanced rock is supposedly held in place by a single strand of Buddha's hair, and is one of the most sacred places in Myanmar.
The hotel we were staying at gave us a lift to the starting point for our journey; we travelled in real style this time - in the back of a truck. When it arrived, I did wonder quite how I and some of my companions were going to manage to climb up into it, but I was relieved to see that they had a handy set of steps for us. So we clambered in and made ourselves as comfortable as we could for the short trip.
The trucks wind their way up the mountainside at a fast pace, so you are in for a bumpy and twisty journey that I enjoyed, but not everyone does. The trucks don't go quite all the way to the top, but they do go further than they used to, so by taking it to the second stop, you can avoid most of the walk. And if you really can't be bothered to walk the last bit yourself, there is always the option of paying to be carried up in a chair.
Having made it to the top, our first stop was for lunch. As you might expect, this place attracts thousands of visitors, so they is no shortage of shopping and eating opportunities. As we made our way down a large flight of steps - past the shops of course - to the wide street with all of the restaurants in, we could already see and hear the women calling to attract us to their place to eat. It was a huge cacophony of calls, accompanied by the rapid beckoning motion of the hands. Strangely, as soon as we passed a restaurant, the woman for that place would stop, obviously not having any expectation of being able to draw us back, so as we progressed down the street, the sound gradually dwindled.
After lunch, we went to take a closer look at this big rock. It is quite big, with the rock itself being twenty metres high, with a seven metre temple on top. All covered in gold of course, which you can add to if you buy a bit of gold leaf - and are male!
I know this is a sacred and famous place, but personally I just wasn't that impressed. It felt very commercial and perhaps it has lost something of its prestige as a pilgrimage site now that you can take a truck up the mountain, rather than having to make the journey on foot. I always think of a pilgrimage as having to be hard work. Mind you, given that I wasn't impressed after getting the truck up here, I'm sure I would be even less happy if I'd walked up.
Honestly, whilst I know this place will be a must see for many visitors to Myanmar, I felt that I could happily have given it a miss. To me there are many more interesting and unusual temples and sites to see, not least of which would be two that are coming up in the next posting.rd
Welcome to our travel blog. We are Tabitha and Nic. In 2011 we 'retired' in our early 40s and set off to travel the world. We spent our first year in South America and have been lucky enough to make two trips to Antarctica.
Our blog is a record of our travels, thoughts and experiences. It is not a guide book, but we do include some tips and information, so we hope that you may find it useful if you are planning to visit somewhere we have been. Or you may just find it interesting as a bit of armchair travel.