Myanmar adventures: visit the Golden Rock Pagoda

As yesterday we arrived in Bago, we are still trying to get used to all the local traffic rush. After a short night sleep, today we are setting off for Kyaiktiyo Pagoda, known as Golden Rock Pagoda.

Even though the Golden Rock Pagoda is not on my bucketlist for Myanmar, this place is quite original and if you have time and money, even worth the visit.

Have a breakfast at the 10 main road

We get up early, it’s 5:45 am. I haven’t slept well, I was awake during the whole night trying to adjust the air con. But with the jet lag, I am well-awake.

The breakfast is poor, how did they manage to fail these fried eggs? The coffee won’t do it either, it tastes like really bad it makes think it’s brewed with toilet water. Not to mention the “fresh orange juice” which tastes like medicine.

At least we have these toasts with some very sweet jelly-jam.

And go to the bus station

After breakfast we head towards the bus station. Downstairs of our hotel a person randomly asks us if we go to the Golden Pagoda, and tells us that the bus should pass here. We know that we should take the bus at the station; anything else is risky, given that the bus drivers don’t speak English, for confirmation.

We arrive a little before 7, and here the circus begins!

Person A tells us there is no bus for the Golden Pagoda.

Then person B tells us the bus already left at 7 am. Even though no bus left when we were there.

Person C tells us that the bus we need leaves at 8. But the guy from our hotel gave us the official schedule for bus, and they are going out at 7:30, 8:30, etc.

As nothing makes sense for us, we go to person D, a policeman or guard. We start explaining, I think he understands a little English and starts thinking of a response, when…

…persons E and F come and tell him something in Myanmar language. After this our policeman suddenly doesn’t want to help us anymore. At 7:30 a bus leaves; it’s maybe ours.

We tell persons E and F that we aren’t interested by their taxi service, and we leave.

Then a wild solution appears

We don’t really know what to do, as no one is helping us, they only want to take advantage of us.

A person G appears. He speaks very good English. We explain to him the situation and he starts asking around for the bus for the Golden Rock.

But the bus already left. He starts making phone calls and proposes us a car ride to the Pagoda. It’s 3 hours drive by bus. The proposed price is somewhat more expensive than the bus, but we negotiate at almost the same price as the bus, at 6,000 per person per way (so for Rémi and I it was 24,000 Kyat for the whole trip).

But we still need two more people for the taxi ride.

Finally we find a couple of Spanish people – Emi and Jose. We later found out that they paid a little more for the same ride, so maybe it’s worth to negotiate.

Kinmon, here we are!

After 2 hours drive we arrive at Kinmon, the town at the base of the Golden Rock Pagoda.

Pretty quickly we find the tuck-tuck we have to take to the Pagoda. People are stacked 6 per little bench, fat or slim – doesn’t matter. The fee is 2,000 Kyat per way per person, and the tuck-tuck doesn’t leave unless it’s full. After 15 min more people arrive, and we finally can leave.

On the way up to the Pagoda, a Myanmar person finishes his bottle of water and throws it in the nature like a ball well-pitched in a baseball match.

The sides of the road are garbage full and now we can finally understand why. Emi and Jose, Rémi and I are enraging at this behaviour, but the Myanmar people just can’t grasp the situation and the fact that they shouldn’t litter.

On the way to the Golden Rock Pagoda

After 45 min of tuck-tuck ride, we arrive on top of the mountain, bones hurting everywhere because of the bumpy ride.

Up here we have to give our contact information and ID, and to pay the entry fee of 6,000 Kyat per person. We are here for the Golden Rock Pagoda.

We start climbing the slope, people are looking at us. We are with the Spanish friends. Last set of steps, and it’s like a validation gate where they tell you if you can pass or not. Remember, we already paid!

And so, an old lady stops me and doesn’t let me pass through. I show her the ticket and ask what’s the problem, but – obviously – she doesn’t speak English. She then, starts yelling “longgyi, longgyi”. Even though I have pants and am dressed appropriately.

I panic, because I don’t have longgyi (the skirt to wear when you enter a temple to cover legs). I didn’t think it was necessary, given I am dressed appropriately, but wearing pants, instead of skirt.

Finally I realize I can use my scarf as a cover legs. So I can continue my way up towards the Golden Rock.

The Pagoda, here we come!

So… here we are!

Walking bare foot is a torture, is like walking on lava. On a hot day, the ground can be merciless, but it’s even worse when you walk on black tiles. Come prepared to suffer!

The Golden Rock Pagoda is a “normal” Myanmar pagoda – understand kitsch. Yellow decorations everywhere, which makes it ugly looking temple.

But what’s interesting over here is the Golden Rock.

The Golden Rock is a rock that stays in equilibrium at the edge of it’s support thanks to three hairs from Buddha.

The Golden Rock: men and women

When preparing our visit around Myanmar, I had stumbled across testimonials where women said they couldn’t even get close to the Rock. But the thing is, you don’t need to get really close. The closest you can be is 2-3 meters, is more than enough.

But men are allowed to touch the Rock and put golden foils on the Rock. Rémi went to touch the Golden Rock and came back with golden fingers.

I only took pictures of him and the Rock from the side.

While walking around and taking pictures of the place and of the view, some teenagers ask us to take pictures together. We are like pop stars, everyone around wants pictures of us.

Yes, because I didn’t tell you, but Myanmar people actually do visit Pagodas, not for tourism, but for prayers. And the Golden Rock Pagoda is an important Buddhist place for the people.

On our way back

So after we finish with the visit and the pictures, we meet our Spanish friends and go back to the tuck-tuck. On the way down, there are more people, so tuck-tucks are leaving 3 at once.

The way down is even more hurtful, as they can go even faster on these damaged roads.

And finally we realize that we haven’t established a meeting point or time with our driver. We start panicking, when a guy comes to us asking if we enjoyed the visit. It’s our driver! Yes!

Actually it was a wise decision to take the shared taxi. For almost the same price we took less time on the road, and it was more flexible. We could come back as soon as we finished the visit.

Now we have the afternoon to explore Bago.


Would you visit the Golden Rock Pagoda?
Have you been here? How did you find it?
Share your experience in the comment section below. 
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