Postcards from Abroad

Whether your dream is to stay in a colonial-era bungalow in the middle of a tea plantation, an Indian princely palace, or to cruise in luxury the Irrawaddy to Mandalay, we never tire of searching for your next great travel destination. This is the place to share with us your most recent adventures.

Kyaiktiyo: 'pagoda on a hermit's head'

James and Cate at KyaiktiyoOur visit to Kyaiktiyo meaning 'pagoda on a hermit's head' is something we will never forget. This is one of the holiest places in the country which thousands of people visit every day. We were to spend a night on the mountain so we had to prepare beforehand as our suitcases could not accompany us. So we packed very light, a small rucksack each and off we went.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kyaiktiyo Myanmar 2

Golden Rock sits 1100m up in the Eastern Yoma Mountains. Like most others we took an open truck from Kinpun to get there......... Well, we were somewhat surprised to find at base camp stacks of trucks and hundreds and hundreds of people - this being an extremely busy time of year as all the schools are on holiday. One had to climb onto a stand to get into each truck and this is where the fun began. May our guide told us to leave our manners at home and it was a scrum from the start . It was every man for himself and 6 people squeezed into each row. There was much revving and then we were off. It was a 45 minute roller coaster ride. The driver attacked the hairpin bends as though he was a racing driver and we roared our way to the top with the hooter at full blast. I discovered afterwards that each fare includes life insurance. I only lost my water bottle on the way up and was very pleased to be alive!

In a truck heading to Kyaiktiyo

truck heading to Kyaiktiyo

We checked into our hotel and then prepared for the final ascent..... Hundreds of shoeless people made their way, each side of the wide walkway filled with stalls, hostels and vendors; when we reached the top it was absolutely fascinating. From previous crazy loud madness and mayhem we witnessed total devotion. Whole families sat about on mats, chatting and eating, they were there for the duration and would spend the night in the open whilst monks and nuns floated about.

Kyaiktiyo Myanmar 3

The pagoda rises from a golden boulder which itself is perched precariously on a granite rock. People prayed, lit candles and made offerings. We watched as men carefully added tiny sheets of gold leaf to it. At certain angles it looked as though the rock would fall upon you. The whole surrounding area buzzed with humanity, each person doing his/her own thing, yet there was time and room to take photographs, chat to others and observe. It was a truly memorable experience. Once the sun went down we made our way back and watched members of the Caren Tribe dancing in their beautiful blue and white costumes. WOW, it was amazing. An added bonus was our comfortable hotel which gave a bit of respite from the noise and clamour outside.

prayers at Kyaiktiyo

Karen Tribe dancers

The queue to get down the mountain the next morning was even more horrendous than coming up with no sense of order or semblance of queuing. It was every man and woman for themselves and May our guide reckoned it would take at least an hour to get on one of the shuttles! James, however, put his head down and was able to barge his way through; we followed his lead and all was well as we managed to get on the first one available. We were at the bottom of the mountain within half an hour rather battered and bruised but feeling we had beaten the odds!

Kyaiktiyo Myanmar 1

James and Cate at Kyaiktiyo

An unforgettable, and thoroughly enjoyable, experience.......

Next stop Mawlamyine, and then Hpa-An.

Mingalaba - Hello
Mawlamyine and Hpa- An (which apparently means 'Fr...
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