Posted by: lindsaygoes | January 12, 2015

Myanmar – Golden Rock

After our brief stop in Yangon, we headed towards the Golden Rock Pagoda.

We first stopped at a golden Bodhi tree which was thought to house a spirit, and people take new cars there to be blessed and prevent accidents. We saw a few cars there, driving backwards and forwards three times and having flowers placed on top. A lot of cars also beep their horns three times as they drive past to honour the spirits.

Then we went to Taukkyan War Cemetery, a cemetery from World War II and wandered around some of the graves there.

Our next stop was Bago where we stopped at a local market, which was pretty crazy. Lots of flowers and fish for sale!Golden Rock, Kyaiktiyo Pagoda, Myanmar

Finally we arrived at Kyaiktiyo, where the Golden Rock Pagoda is. This is the third most important pilgrimage site in Burma and the pilgrimage season is from November to March. Visiting on a weekend meant that it was crazy. We had to hop on a truck to get to up to the pagoda area. It had seven or eight rows of seats, and they squeezed seven people in each row, regardless of the size of the people in each row. The truck wound up bumpy roads to the top, stopping every now and then for a donation shake down (at least I assume that’s what it was, as they were talking in Burmese). There were lots of trucks going up and down, and once we got to the top it was full of pilgrims visiting and camping out for the night.

We went to drop off our bags at our hotel, and found we didn’t have a reservation there, but had been bumped to another hotel further down the hill. At least we could drop our bags off.

The rock itself is a large boulder, covered in gold paint and gold leaf, perched on an ledge so it looked like it could topple off any minute. There were some wonderful views around the area. From the Golden Rock we walked down and down lots of stairs, flanked by markets stalls, to Kyee Kan Pa Sat, or the Crow’s Mouth Cave. If you could throw a coin into the mouth you would be granted a wish. There was a small boy crawling into the mouth to collect all the coins as well.

Then it was back up all the stairs to watch sunset at the Golden Rock, which was spectacular. Then we collected our bags and did the fifteen minute walk to the actual hotel we were staying at…which turned out to be more of a thirty minute walk. At least we had torches. Golden Rock, Kyaiktiyo Pagoda, Myanmar

The next morning we caught the truck back down to the bottom of the mountain, with a thirty minute delay as they had closed the road so a military big wig could get to the top without any delays. Once at the bottom our van was blocked into a carpark, so after ten minutes of car tetris we were ready to head off.

Our next stop was back in Bago where we first went to Shwemawdaw Paya, the tallest pagoda in Myanmar, which had been damaged by an earthquake at one point. Then it was on to Hinthakone Pagoda where we saw some spirit dancers and had a great view over the Bago area. We could also see our next stop Kambazathadi Golden Palace where we saw replicas of the Lion Throne and Bee Throne from when Myanmar had royalty. Shwemawdaw Paya, Bago, Myanmar

We stopped and had lunch at a fairly local place, our guide went through the menu and told us all the noodle dishes we could have. I’m weird and don’t like noodles so after some questioning it seemed I could have rice and ordered chicken and rice. The chicken was luke warm which set off my alarm bells (which I think is reasonable as I’ve experienced the hospitals in several countries). At that point I was told the restaurant had run out of rice. Which seemed unlikely as the restaurant was in Asia. So I got noodles, and as I was waiting saw plates and plates of rice leaving the kitchen. Shwethalyaung Buddha, Bago, Myanmar

Then it was on to the Shwethalyaung Buddha which we were told was the second largest reclining Buddha in the world. We were also told we would visit a larger reclining Buddha – which is not the largest Buddha in the world. Regardless of where it lies in the size order, the Shwethalyaung Buddha was pretty impressive, with mosaics on its feet and murals along the outside. The only disappointing bit was the building it was housed in, which had pillars very close to the Buddha, blocking the view. Next it was the larger Buddha, the Mya Tha Lyaung reclining Buddha, which is an outdoor reclining Buddha, built in 2002. It was pretty impressive even with its young age. Mya Tha Lyaung Reclining Buddha, Bago, Myanmar

Buddhist Monks learning, Maha Kalyani Sima (ordination hall), Bago, Myanmar

On we went to the Maha Kalyani Sima ordination hall where we saw Buddhist monks learning, and then we visited Kyaik Pun Pagoda, which has four Buddha statues, one on each side. Kyaik Pun Pagoda, Bago, Myanmar

On the way back to Yangon we saw a procession of monks, and in the evening went to the Botataung Pagoda, which was lovely, all lit up by the waterfront. Inside the pagoda there was so much gold, covering every inch of the walls inside.

The next day we visited some of the local markets, and then it was time to fly back to Australia.

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