Oliver and I caught the 10 something bus for our 4 hours journey further east to see one of the 3 holiest place in Myanmar, the Golden Rock at Mt Kyaiktiyo. Initially I shudder at the thought of travelling 4 hours in a non-air conditioned bus with a bus load full of Burmese but then I was told that a 4 hour ride is consider short distance in Myanmar, thus no air-con. Yikes! It's either that or pay USD30 for the cab fare. In the end, we both decided to travel with the locals instead to keep up the spirit of backpacking.
the bus ride to Kinpun, not the lady sitting in the middle, that's where I sat throughout the journey.
The bus ride was a very interesting experience for me. We waited for about 15 minutes before the bus from Yangon pulled over in front of us.
The person in charge of the guest house brought us to bus stop, waited at the stop together with us, and checked the final destination with the bus driver before sending us on our merry way to Mt Kyaiktiyo. When I got up to the bus, I got a shock when I saw that there were people sitting in the aisle. A folded chair is attached to each seat on the right side of the bus. Instead of sitting 4 in a row, the bus actually fit 5. Oliver and I took the remaining 2 aisle seats in the bus and I have to say, it's the best seats in the house. You get to look at the scenery on both side of the bus (depending which direction you want to park your eyes at) and breezes from both side of the window. The only minus point is that you have to get up each time someone wants to get off the bus.
pagodas seen along the journey
I was very lucky because every time I had to get up, the Burmese lady next to me folds and unfolds my chair. I guess she felt it is faster for her to do it for me rather than waiting for me to get up, turn around, fold the chair and make way to the passing passenger. As we were about to reach our destination, the bus assistant suddenly came up to me and asked where i'm from. When I told him I'm from Malaysia, he bent his head, smiled and ran to the front the of the bus.. hahaha kinda remind me of high school days.
the back of the truck where we travel from Kinpun to the foot of the hill.
Our final destination, Kin Pu is a town existed solely to serve the people that goes to the Golden Rock. It consist of guest houses, restaurants and souvenir shops. that's it. To see the Golden Rock, one has to take a 45 min ride in the pick up truck and walked another 45 min before reaching the top.
The road up is as narrow as of Fraser Hill road, as winding as Camerons and as steep as Genting. Since I decided to go up in the afternoon, i opted to pay a little more to sit with the driver instead of the back of the truck (no cover from the sun). I have to say, it was hell trying to walk up the remaining 45 min of the journey. As the truck doesn't leave until it's full load, I wasted quite a fair bit of time there. By the time I reached the mid point, it was already 3.45pm and the last truck leaves at 6pm. It was tough trying to make your up the the narrow, winding steep road, it doesn't help when i attracted the attention of a young Burmese soldier. Like any Burmese that I met on my journey, they all want to know where i'm from and this young chap is no different.
the Golden Rock from the bottom of the hill where the climb starts.
He tried to strike conversation with me, never mind that his command of English is very weak and I can't speak Burmese at all. I thought I saw the last of him at the truck station so imagine my disbelief when I saw him at mid point, trying to catch up with me. He bought me a walking stick and he tried to buy me drinks whenever we passed by a restaurant. He also tried to find out more about me by asking me questions, and when i refused to answer him, he started to apologize for his bad English. Urgghh.... If you were wondering what happened to my travelling buddy, well since he's staying another day in Kin Pun, he opted to go the next day... so no bodyguard for me that day.. how unlucky. Sigh.
The entrance to the temple
By the time I reached the top, i only had 45 minutes to look around and catch my breath before i have to descend to catch the last truck.
Descending is equally hard as ascending the hill. About 5 Min's into my descend, someone shouted at me and pointed me to a shortcut down the hill. Myanmar people has a peculiar way of greeting foreigner. Instead of the usual soft "hello" they greet you with "HA!Low!!" and that really take some time to get used to. When I first heard that, I thought the local was plain rude. Taking the short cut, I met a young girl who was really curious with the contents of my bag when I make a pitt stop at her place to change the batteries of my camera. I gave her a pack of biscuits and took some pictures with her and of the sunset. The same guy who pointed me to the short cut saw that I was dilly dallying, shouted for me to move my butt if i want to catch the last ride. He and another guy became my guide going downhill but I lost him half way. I guess he went ahead to hold up the truck for me as I was the last passenger to get on that truck. I barely make it in time. Going downhill at the back of the truck is akin riding a roller coaster in the twilight.....fun.
The Golden Rock, was told the rock is plated with real gold.