After an amazing time in Inle Lake it was time to move on. It was an early start to the Heho airport which was an experience in itself but we made it to Yangon in one piece and onto a bus for our 4hr journey to the village at the base of Mt. Kyaiktiyo.
From here you can either choose to walk up the mountain to the The Golden Rock (from the base to the top it will be about a 3day trek) or you can jump into an open air truck at the base which they pack with locals and foreigners (there is a small price). The 3 day trek was awfully tempting, however we opted for the truck. The seats are uncomfortable and not built for badonkadonks (aka big bums like mine) and some trucks have back rests that act as handles and others don’t. You will also enjoy the journey with someone’s knee digging into your bum, but when you get going, being uncomfortable seems like a good price to pay compared to walking. The hills are quite steep and at moments it feels like the truck will loose steam and just roll backwards but it perseveres. The truck ride takes about 45mins – 1hr to get from the base to the top as it’s only a one way street they do have to stop at designated stops to let other trucks pass that are coming in the opposite direction. The trucks also only seem to run during the day which is understandable as I can imagine it being quite dangerous driving at night. Once you get to the top you will have to pay a foreigner fee and then it’s about a 20min walk to the actual site. Again, as it’s a sacred site, once you reach the two giant lions guarding the entrance you will have to walk the rest of the way barefoot but it’s all tiled and the walk itself isn’t that strenuous.
I tell you what, after the crazy day to get here, plane, bus, truck, feet… it was definitely worth it! I can’t even describe the atmosphere as it’s something you have to experience. There are some spots where only men can enter and then of course men can purchase some gold leaf to place on the rock after walking over the ‘abyss’, again, no girls allowed.
If you do visit, I’d recommend you go for sunset and battle your way through the foreigners to find yourself a nice spot to view the sun setting behind the rock. Of course, you won’t be able to get back down if you go for sunset so make sure you book some accommodation and stay the night (why not?). We stayed at the Golden Rock Hotel and I recommend it to anyone! It was about a 30min walk from the golden rock down steep hill (make sure to bring a torch) but it was definitely not what we were expecting. The staff here were amazing and so friendly and helpful and the rooms were really nice and comfortable. It was probably one of the best hotels we have stayed in since arriving in Myanmar.
If you have got time, definitely try and make your way to the Golden Rock. The view on the way up and at the top is breathtaking and just to experience the whole atmosphere was amazing.