From Yangon we took a 6-hour nightbus to Kinpun. Kinpun is a small village 160 kilometres from Yangon. After finding accommodation in the middle of the night and sleeping there maybe three hours it was time to start trekking to Kyaiktiyo Golden Rock Pagoda in a nearby hilltop. Kyaiktiyo is a holy site to Buddhists, third important in Myanmar after Yangon Shwedagon Pagoda and Mandalay’s Mahamuni Temple. It is believed that a hair of a Buddha is secreted inside a pagoda standing on the top of the rock. Speciality with Kyaiktiyo is the fact that that it’s defying gravity. Gilded rock is balancing above another rock and it seems that it might flip over the edge any minute. It is said that it’s possible to pull a string between these two rocks. Buddhists believe that it is the weight of the sacred hair which prevents the boulder from toppling into the ravine below.

Most of the people are transferred to Kyaiktiyo by trucks from Kinpun. Truck platform is crammed full of narrow benches that are loaded full of people. Trucks drive up and down winding roads terrible speed. We decided to do like the most devouted pilgrims do and hike up the mountain. We thought it would have been a nice couple of hours hike but actually it took us five hours to trek up 15 kilometres of serpentine roads surrounded by the jungle. We started at 6.30 and were on the top by midday totally exhausted. It was maybe 37 degrees when we reached the top. Many trucks were passing us on the way with people waving, showing thumbs-up and even videotaping us. We saw two monks doing the same route except that they were coming down. Another one of them walked without shoes. There is always someone more hardcore than you!

DSC_3087Kinpun village was very peaceful and had only a handful of other western tourists.

DSC_3089 Loading trucks

DSC_3070Trucks leave people 15-45 minutes before the top so everyone needs to walk at least a bit. There is an option though for those who aren’t able to walk at all. It is possible to hire sedan chairs carried by four men to carry them up. We saw a couple of those carriages.

DSC_3047 Only men are allowed to enter the boulder through the narrow causeway. They were applying golden leaves to the rock. Women can admire the rock from farther viewing pavilion.

DSC_3050 Buddhists were offering fruits, flowers, incences for example.

DSC_3059

DSC_3068 Mountaineous scenery through which we had walked

DSC_3083 We took a truck back down. It was like being in amusement park’s rollercoaster!

-Katariina