The five hour sauna that drove us all the way from Yangon to Kyaiktiyo was complete with Burmese soap operas and movies that had taken Western pop songs and given them Burmese lyrics. Hilarious (-ly painful). We were ushered off the bus, and then told that we had to take scooter taxis to the actual town we were supposed to be going to. So, once again, our packs were carefully arranged between the drivers legs and we shot off towards Kinpun getting a good eye full of local rural life.
Landing at the cheapest guesthouse – there was a clear reason why it was cheap – we dumped our bags and went in search of food. The village was fairly small: only ten minutes to walk slowly from one end to another, so we whittled away the rest of the afternoon visiting small tea shops to drink sweetened powder coffee and the free tea that awaits on every table.
This wee village is the gateway to the famed Golden Rock – a large golden rock perched precariously on the edge of a hill and one of the three most sacred religious sites in Myanmar. It is said to be sitting on the site of a Buddha hair and the locals were quick to tell us that it is the strength of said hair that keeps it from falling. Mmmhmmm. Supposedly this rock was transported all the way from the river we could see in the distance, and up the hill – I mean, whoa. To get to the temple you either have to walk or take a kind of safari jeep on steriods. We opted for the latter and spent an hour or so sardine-packed and under the blazing sun as we grunted our way up the winding road.
The rock itself is more amusing than it is amazing. It’s a strange shape and really looks like it could topple off at any minute. But nevertheless, countless pilgrims and devotees come to lay gold leaves on it or small bells with written inscriptions for the well-being of family or friends. Male devotees, that is. Women, I soon read, are not allowed to cross the little bridge (they had security there too) and touch the giant rock. Nor are they allowed to summit the two metre high hill behind it as it would mean that they would be higher than the men. Pffft. I’m all for respecting culture differences but what the?! Angelo enjoyed touching it though, and waving to me.
Aaaaand that was pretty much all that we did there.
The next day we caught another scooter: this time we had both of us AND both our packs and the driver on the same bike, and a bus back to Yangon to wait for another bus to the famous valley of Bagan. Long days, long nights. Who said travelling was easy?