Published: July 19th 2012July 19th 2012
Surprisingly the bus from Bagan to the golden rock was good, the bus to Yangon took the express road which was no different from an English motorway and the bus from Yangon was a local bus but the roads were well made and the journey was comfortable. At this point I had run out of Myanmar kyat, I changed up originally in Yangon and that money had lasted me up until now. The rate I had received in Yangon was 900 kyat to the dollar, so I was appalled to hear 700 to the dollar at the golden rock. From the moment I got to this town everybody in it was trying to rip me off, I felt like a giant walking dollar bill. I was being hassled by everyone and it really gave me a negative image of the town. I had to change some money to survive but I elected to change as little as possible, see the rock and then disperse to Yangon and save my money. I had a look around the town the night of my arrival and it seemed as though the rock was the only thing to see or do here anyway.
I went to sleep and was brutally awoken at 4am by singing monks. Burmese people are definitely the definition of early risers….I tried to power through but by 6 I gave up and went for breakfast, for 2 dollars you can get a lift to the halfway point of the mountain, and then a further 45 minute walk will take you to the top. Normally I frown upon cheaters, and taking a bus to the top would be something I would avidly avoid, however the last bus to Yangon was at 2 and the walk was 4 and a half hours. I couldn’t risk being woken by singing monks again and so I hoped into a truck, a truck which was filled with 40 people and a shipment of supplies, I couldn’t move at all. I shut my eyes and held tight to the 2x4 that was below me, at the top I jumped off and started my ascent of the mountain. I met a guy from Belgium who said he came to Myanmar to look at snakes, I thought he was one weird bastard, but I decided to keep that to myself. The walk was fairly quick and when I got to the top I remembered that you needed 6 dollars for entrance fee, I didn’t have it. This made me panic as I thought they might force me to come back tomorrow and thus I would be woken up by the monks again. I told the man at the desk that I didn’t know and he let me through, I felt like I had just bitch slapped the Burmese government in the face.
To give the rock its due it was a lot more impressive that I had anticipated, almost as impressive as Bagan in my opinion, the reason was because of its surroundings. If you can imagine a boulder the size of an average living room entirely gold with a rod stuck on top. Now imagine this boulder precariously balancing on the edge of a mountain. Now imagine looking out from this mountain and you are above the clouds, the only thing you can see is cloud, mist and other mountains. There’s something mythical about it, my brain just can’t conceive how and why someone would bring a huge boulder to the top of a mountain which at that point would have had no trail to the top, and balance it on the edge of a platform. Regardless I oogled at it for a few hours, WALKED down for 4 hours and then got a bus to Yangon, ready to leave Myanmar.