Last weekend, I took another day trip from Yangon to visit the famous Kyaiktiyo Pagoda, which is a Buddhist pilgrimage site. The pagoda is placed above a rock covered in gold leaf. The rock hangs precariously from a cliff. According to the legend, a strand of Buddha’s hair holds the rock to the cliff, safe from falling. The rock is covered in gold by men who come to pay their respects to Buddha by attaching pieces of gold leaf, bought from a stand nearby, to the rock. Women are not allowed to go near the rock or pagoda, but can view them from surrounding balconies.
I took a bus that went straight from Yangon to Kinpun. Only a few buses travel to Kinpun; most stop at Kyaikto, which is a town that’s further away from the pagoda. The bus ride oneway takes about 5 hours. I took the 6am bus from Yangon to Kinpun and the last bus at 3pm from Kinpun to Yangon. On my way to Kinpun, the bus blasted AirCon, and I regretted not bringing a pair of socks with me as I froze for the five hour trip. On the way back to Yangon, it seemed that the AirCon was broken, and the bus was packed with people. The bus had middle seats that folded out into the aisles, and those were all full. Of course, it wouldn’t be a trip in Myanmar without people vomiting, spitting beetle nut, coughing uncontrollably, and sneezing everywhere. Needless to say, the bus ride was not the best part of the trip, but it got me from point A to B and back.
Open Back Truck
From Kinpun, I piled into one of the open backed trucks that go from Kinpun up the windy roads of the mountain to the pagoda. The trip is 2,000 kyat for one way. It was a nice way to see beautiful views of the mountains and nature and get some fresh air after a crammed bus ride….until people start vomiting.
After getting off of the open back truck, you walk through a street lined with shops selling souvenirs, medicines, food, and accommodation. Some people pay to be carried up the path on a stretcher placed on men’s shoulders.
The area surrounding the pagoda is an open space filled with Buddhists taking naps and picnicking. I find it interesting that people relax and eat in such holy places in Myanmar. The pagoda is obviously placed at the side of the cliff, and you can see the pagoda and rock from all different angles. Men can go up to the rock and stick gold leaf to it. The top of the cliff offers great views of the mountain.
When I visited, they were finishing up a cable car service that goes from a lower part of the mountain up to the top. I couldn’t help but think how I would never take a cable car high in the air over a mountain in Myanmar because I would fear for my safety the entire time. The next weekend was their grand opening, and they offered free rides to people. Too many people tried to squeeze into the car and the cable car broke, on its first day in use.