Our Backyard Travel Sales Manager Jamie was recently able to take a break in Myanmar. During his time there he had the chance to visit one of Asia’s most curious sites, ‘The Golden Rock’ at the Kyaiktiyo Pagoda. Here are some of Jamie’s thoughts about the inspirational Buddhist site:
I’ll be honest; going up the mountain is not a luxurious transit. Yet, jammed elbow-to-elbow in the back of an open air flatbed truck, I couldn’t help but smile at the infectious energy that carried us forward as we made our way up the mountain, at what felt like a 90 degree vertical angle.
There was such a great vibe amongst my fellow travelers – many of them locals making a pilgrimage – as they started joking around, saying that we were going so high that at the top of the mountain we’d be able to touch the clouds.
The first thing I noticed when I clambered down from the truck is how fresh the cool air smelt. The final leg of the journey to the Kyaiktiyo Pagoda is by foot, and everyone must remove their shoes.
It was raining lightly, and I could barely see three meters in front of my face due to the fog. Walking along the smooth limestone walkway barefoot, I had to be careful not to slip because the ground was slightly wet.
As I got closer to the rock, it started to become visible. It was as if the elements were being utilized to make the rock more mystical; the Golden Rock was shrouded in an eerie mist – it was such a surreal sight.
Children were walking past on their way home from school, with their shoes in hand, and I couldn’t help but be jealous of their daily commute past such an inspirational site which on a clearer day would offer spectacular views of the towns below.
Men are allowed to go right up to the rock and rub gold leaf on it, and I did so with care; the rock looks as though it is teetering on the edge, and about to slip off at any minute! If you don’t know, the legend of the Golden Rock is that it is perched on a strand of Buddha’s hair which helps it defy gravity.
Out of curiosity, I knelt down to take a look at how much of the rock is actually touching the ground and it was hard to see exactly. The crack between the rock and the mountain top seems to go on forever.
I did my best to see – and almost damaged my neck in the process – but I’m still not convinced I saw the actual spot where the rock and ground connect…so I can only assume the legend is true!
I had the fortune to spend some time at a nearby monastery that evening after sunset, sitting on the floor as the monks performed their chants. With the door wide open, the fog started to gently roll into the hall from outside, slowly creeping it’s way along the dark wooden floors. I put my hand out, and touched the clouds for the first time. The people in the truck really weren’t kidding!
The next morning, we visited the Golden Rock again one last time before leaving. The sky above us had cleared a little, and rays of sun finally poked through the clouds. We were finally able to see more than a few meters in front of us, but the ground below and the base of the mountain was still hidden by thick grey fog.
I’m not a religious person, but the Kyaiktiyo Pagoda certainly inspired some strong emotions in me – it’s a truly moving place and I’d certainly recommend it to anyone traveling to Myanmar!
Our bespoke ‘Myanmar’s Golden Rock & The Undiscovered Mon Region’ takes travelers to experience the Kyaiktiyo Pagoda and it’s awe-inspiring Golden Rock. Alternatively, our Yangon-based Travel Specialists are able to specially tailor any of our customizable Myanmar tours to include a visit to the majestic pagoda, so for more information on how you can share Jamie’s experience, be sure to contact them now!