I spent two days on top of Mt Kyaikhtiyo during my photography workshop with Maciej Dakowicz. There were a lot of photo opportunities with local tourists, nice scenery and the iconic sight of a holy Buddhist site. I wasn’t going to mention the Golden Rock at all but it seems to be the main reason my Thai friend is planning a visit to Burma so I looked through the photos and decided to share some of them and let him decide.
This is one of the few places in Myanmar that I wouldn’t consider visiting again. Some tourist like it, I didn’t. There are so many more interesting places in Burma to spend your time. For me two days there was way too long. Maybe a half day trip would have been fine? There are lots of one day trips organised from Yangon (160km away) to see the Golden Rock. Maybe that is a better solution than staying there.
We stayed in a village at the base of Mt Kyaikhtiyo. Both mornings we took an open truck packed with tourists to the top of the mountain.
Going up the rock at 1100m above sea level is a very bumpy 45 minute ride (2500Kyats each way – we were very specifically told that the fee included life insurance…). You are constantly thrown from one side to another. We held on tightly to the metal bar in front of the seat (and to the thought that we had extra insurance) as the truck sped along the narrow, steep, mountain road to the top. We all agreed that “ride a roller coaster in Myanmar” was most definitely ticked off our list.
Doing it once could be considered an adventure.. but doing it twice in a row? I didn’t enjoy it, to say the least..
Golden rock, a 15meter high, gravity defying rock with a small stupa on top is massive. It’s completely covered with a thick layer of gold leaf that has been pasted on by men (only) devotees. Legend says that Kyaikhtiyo pagoda that sits on top of the boulder is over 2500 years old and contains one of Buddha’s hairs.
Pilgrims meditate, chant, have family picnics, sleep, play with kids and generally just spend their holiday around the Rock.
After the ride on the truck. No shoes are allowed and it’s a 15min walk to Golden Rock.
At the ‘no shoes border’ the only way to transport anything is in baskets. Men, women, boys and girls make their living by transporting supplies up and down the hill on foot. I saw baskets full of bricks, rice sacks, a gas bottle, food for restaurants, designer handbags (for well-off but weak tourist) and kids. This is one of the reasons everything around the Kyaiktiyo Pagoda is more expensive. No cars are allowed at the top of the mountain.