|Myanmar||Kyaiktiyo||2002.01.19 - 01.21|
The golden rock at Kyaiktiyo (pronounced Chai'-tee-yo) is balanced precariously on a sloped ledge. By anyone's expectation, the rock should lean back on its base or fall forward off its support. Nevertheless, the rock appears to magically balance on a narrow point of contact. Admission is US$6.
Buses departing Yangon in the morning and early afternoon pass through Bago to Kinpun (700 Kyat). Travel time from Yangon is 5~6 hours. From Kinpun, a very cramped 45-minute truck ride goes to a parking lot near Kyaiktiyo (200 Kyat uphill, 150 Kyat downhill). The first truck departs Kinpun at 06:00. Succeeding trucks depart when they are full. From the parking lot, a 45-minute uphill walk arrives at Kyaiktiyo Pagoda with the golden rock.
From Yangon, we wanted to loop to Kyaiktiyo to Inle Lake to Mandalay to Bagan, and back to Yangon. To get from Kyaiktiyo to Inle Lake, a bus transfer in Bago is necessary. We thought it best to stop in Bago en route to Kyaiktiyo to check the bus schedule to Inle Lake. From Bago, only one bus per day departs for Inle Lake at 13:30 (18 hours, 2500 Kyat). The only alternative is a 17:30 bus for Meiktila (14 hours) located 6 hours West of Inle.
With Inle Lake bus information in hand, we asked the bus ticket seller in Hadaya Cafe when the next bus to Kyaiktiyo would depart. "All buses today are full. Try coming back at 07:00 tomorrow morning." Dope! It turns out that ticket sellers can only sell reserved seats (700 Kyat to Kyaiktiyo) but even after all seats are sold, passengers can still board and sit on low plastic chairs in the aisle (600 Kyat to Kyaiktiyo). We hopped on the next bus and reached Kyaiktiyo that night.
The next morning, we rode the 45-minute long truck to the parking lot below Kyaiktiyo Pagoda. "Cramped" is redefined on this truck. 7 rows of 10 cm wide benches span the truck bed. In the space of 5 school children's butts are squeezed 6 adults. The gap between benches is shorter than Wes' thigh. Lacking handrails for passengers and accelerating up and down mountain roads, this could have been the trip from hell. Fortunately, a hilarious 15-person Burmese family was part of the passenger load. They behaved like the truck ride was a roller coaster and hollered with glee. One kept shouting, "Oh my God!" probably for our benefit whenever we all uncomfortably crunched to one side on a turn. Disembarking with bruised wobbly knees, a few members of the family walked the 45-minute uphill stretch with us to Kyaiktiyo Pagoda. Their English was poor but they definitely made up for it with humor. "Tiger," one of the boys shouted while pointing at a dog scrambling up a dirt bank. Nothing was serious, everything fun. We ended up spending the entire day eating with, being guided by, and taking photos with the family. Our day was truly memorable.
In the late afternoon, we crunched into another truck for Kinbun. The downhill truck, unbelievably, was more packed than the uphill one.
|We scrunch into the back of a truck that carries passengers from Kinbun to the parking lot below Kyaiktiyo Pagoda. On the ascent, Masami sat on Wes' lap because we couldn't squeeze into the allocated space.|
|The golden rock at Kyaiktiyo Pagoda precariously balances with both ends hovering in the air.|
|We were adopted for the day by the Lwin family at Kyaiktiyo Pagoda. After a full day of sightseeing together, each wanted their photo taken with us.|
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