Monday, April 29, 2013

Defying Gravity

After Hpa-An, Rachel and I decided to pay a short visit to the town of Kyaikto, home of the Golden Rock, one of Myanmar’s most sacred sites. It's more or less what it sounds like: A huge, gravity-defying golden rock located on the top of a very high mountain. But before we could bask in the glory of this sacred boulder we had to get to the top of the mountain, which was easier said than done.

The Golden Rock

To get to the top you have two choices: hike for about four hours or ride in the back of a large pickup truck. As it was over 35 degrees that day we opted for the latter, but calling the ride uncomfortable would be putting it extremely mildly. Rachel, myself and at least 40 Burmese people were crammed into the back of the truck, packed like sardines on narrow benches so that the knees of the person behind you were digging into your back. To add further discomfort to the situation, every time the driver changed gears the truck would lurch forward, which meant I slammed into the poor woman in front of me multiple times.

One very crowded truck

The better part of an hour later we reached the top of the mountain, and after a further short walk we had reached The Rock. Legend has it the precariously placed rock is able to balance in such a way because it's sitting on one of Buddha's hairs. I'm more inclined to think it's been somehow glued there, but either way its placement was certainly no small feat! I hadn't seen anything quite like the rock and while it was certainly impressive, what I found even more interesting was how special it clearly was for the locals to be there. As an added bonus, the breeze from that high up was heavenly; it was certainly the coolest I'd felt (apart from the few times I've been somewhere here with aircon!) in a long time. Honestly the trip was worth it for that aspect alone! (Can you tell I'm struggling with the heat?!)

Where they keep all the good air

I wasn't sure Myanmar's 'southern circuit' (Mawlamyine, Hpa-An and Kyaikto) would be worth it but I’m definitely glad I included these cities in my trip. They are well worth a stop if you have the time and want to see some less-visited places. That being said, I'm looking forward to seeing some of Myanmar's more popular destinations. Next up, trekking at Inle Lake!

It's definitely unique, I'll give it that!

Locals praying

I'm no feminist but this seemed rather sexist to me

Posing with one of the many monks

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