Today is our second day in Myanmar, after yesterday city tour in Yangon we are heading to Bago and Kyaikhtiyo for the famous golden rock at thr top of the mountain. We started our trip at eight and drive to Kyakhatwine Monastery where hundreds of monk and monkee learn Sanskrit. The trip from Yangon to Bago is quite long (2-3hours) and there were traffic inside the city. Along the way we passed several market, rice fields, and villages.
Kyakhatwine Monastery in Bago
The monks are having lunch at 11 am, so when we arrived at 10.30, we got plenty of time to tour around the small monastery. There are hundreds of them on a line waiting to get rice for their lunch, we could participate by helping the seniors giving rice to the bowl they have individually. In the monastery we also tour to their study hall and surrounding room. There were monkees (children monk) as small as seven years old until 22 years old in the monastery. When we enter the monastery, we also have to leave our shoes and socks in front entrance, so when we exited we have to give the children 500-1000 kyat ($0.5) for guarding our shoes. People in Myanmar is quite innocent, the criminal rate is low as well. In other countries, perhaps we won’t see our shoes again.
Study room in Kyakhatwine Monastery, Bago
After visiting the monastery we visited again another place of reclining Buddha, called Shwethahlyaung. We learned that shwe means gold, so anything with “shwe” in its name usually has something gold on it. The site itself doesn’t really makes a good photograph, but it tells the story of how Myanmar religion mostly becomes Buddha. In the past, King’s son is fall in love with a women from a jungle who doesn’t worship the king’s god. When the women was brought to the palace, she didn’t follow the king’s practice and was punished to death. She prayed to her god (Buddha) and the statue of the king’s god was shattered. Then the king regret his decision and the whole kingdom converts to Buddha. There’s also shops around the area, but nothing interesting or new.
Shwemawdaw Pagoda, Bago
Despite the more famous Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, actually the tallest Pagoda in Myanmar is Shwemawdaw Pagoda in Bago, which is our next destination. One thing I noticed was how few tourist were in the site compared to Shwedagon pagoda, perhaps it was due to the location of Shwemawdaw that is far from city center. The architecture is similar to Shwedagon Pagoda, however the complex is smaller and cleaner.
It was around twelve when we finished touring the pagoda, so we headed to a decent, popular among tourist restaurant nearby and continue our trip to Kimpun camp, where we will ride an open truck to Kyaikhtiyo Hill. We arrived at the truck station at 3 pm and it was raining heavily. The truck ride cost 2500 kyat individually ($2.5) for the backseat (open top) and 15000 kyat ($15) for 5 people next to the driver’s seat. Since there were 3 of us, we booked for the frontseat and we are grateful for it. We waited for other tourist to fill the truck and depart at 4 pm. It rained heavily during our drive to the hill, people on the back are soaked wet, despite wearing rain coat.
On the way from Kimpun Camp to Kyaikhtiyo
We got down from the truck and pick up our luggage, prepared to walk about 5 minutes to our hotel tonight. When we were ready, a lady asked to carry both of our 10 Kgs luggage to the hotel for 5000 kyat ($5), we agreed. In the hotel we took a quick shower and unpack our luggage quickly because at 6 pm we have to walk to the golden rock and watch the sunset. The weather was dissappointing though, it wasn’t raining, but the wind is very strong and the sky was foggy. Clearly sunset is not going to be visible from the golden rock, we walked anyway, barefoot because we have to leave our flip-flop at the entrance. The ceramic floor was slippery and the stone floor hurts our feet, so the 15 minutes walk is quite unpleasant. We photographed the golden rock from various angle for half an hour, the lighting around the rock and the fog creates a mystical environment around it.
The Golden Rock at Kyaikhtiyo at evening
Because the sky is not very dark yet and we didn’t want to wait on the open space, we headed to another hotel at the back of the golden rock. We eventually decided to have dinner there, I had fried rice again and a hot chinese tea. After dinner we went back to the same spot we photographed from earlier, but this time the sky was dark already. It was less windy than at the evening, but the fog is still quite thick
The Golden Rock at Kyaikhtiyo at night
When we walked back to hotel, it was dark and the stairs edge was hard to see, so remember to bring a flashlight. We arrived at our room at 8 pm, took another not-so-hot-water shower and went straight to sleep. The bed wasn’t the most convenient bed I’ve ever sleep on, but it was raining the whole night, makes snuggling below a blanket very comfortable