Published: August 8th 2007June 27th 2007
First I'll mention there is nothing here in Kinpun worth doing apart from visiting a really big boulder (and it is a nice boulder) perched atop a mountain in a gravity defying sort of way, allegedly held in place by one of the Buddha's hairs making it one of the Wonders of the World.
Obviously since I was in this part of the world and with some good company, namely Yoris and Fergal from Yangon, we thought it was probably a sight worth seeing. So you arrive in Kinpun sitting on the roof of a pick-up (try explaining that on an insurance claim!), a village which serves as base-camp for Kyaityio and the Golden Rock which offers cheap accommodation & the luxury of electricity for 6 hours a day from 6pm. Yay. Sea Sar Guest House provided the bed, but unfortunately it came with one of the only restaurants in the village which if possible should be avoided like the plague. It comes complete with some of the worst food I have had so far in Asia, I mean the chicken in the fried rice was some sort of processed crap in the shape of meatballs and the taste of
ITS TRUE!! I always wanted to know if geko's tails really grew back...photographic evidence!!
an ash tray in a cuisine they claim to be Myanmar meets Chinese. As for anything to do I hope you brought a book, because even though we weren't let down with the presence of TV Games we were quickly disappointed with the lack of electricity supply to power it.
So what about the rock? Well, to reach it you have two choices:
1) Either hike the 4-6 hour pilgrimage up the mountain range to the top, or
2) Pay the 80 cents to sit frightened in the back of a flatbed lorry converted to hold 50 people in the back on wooden benches along with the rice, flowers and chickens, so as you're clinging on for dear life by digging your nails in the wood the lorry is pretending its a roller coaster going up and down the steep hills on a 30 minute drive. Add the fact there is no roof and its pouring down with rain, oh yeah and don't forget your raincoat just ripped under your sleeve so you have a very very wet arm pit (Thanks Sharron!), but I suppose it does take your mind off worrying about the possibility of catching bird flu
from the chickens rubbing against your leg!
The bummer is you need so much patience even before you set off on this trip, because even though you were woken up at 6 am the truck wont leave until its 110% over capacity and so won't set off until 9. In the end I think it may actually have been quicker to do the march up the hill. As a result it meant Yoris pretty much wasted his trip since he wouldn't have been able to make it back for the last bus to Yangon. Sorry man.
The truck stops near the top, which means you have a nice 45 minute compulsory march up the top past the thousands of semi open souvenir stalls, tea shops and restaurants which outnumber visitors by no less than 100 to 1. At the time there were no less than 4 other tourists apart from the two of us, do the math. No Tourists = No Business = time to get a more sustainable business idea.
Once you pass all the stalls etc and reach the monastery its suddenly becomes so peaceful and quiet, whereby monks are pacing barefoot under the rain,
the bells are chiming in the wind, and the spectacular giant golden boulder is perched in a gravity defiant sort of way which leaves you in a certain mysterious sense of well being. Unfortunately for us fog, rain and low cloud cover meant we were denied the spectacular-views-that-would-have-been of down below, which coupled to a sunrise/sunset from the top would have undoubtedly induced instant Nirvana.
Overall I suppose the whole traveling experience was the main highlight, I mean its not everyday you get to ride on the top of a pick up, potentially get bird-flu while riding a lorry-come-roller coaster and get to view on of the wonders of the world. I think if I was to do it again I think the pilgrimage would have been a more gratifying option though.
Peace and Love
There are more photos below