Was woken rather rudly by the person next door getting ready to hike up at about 3.00am. I haden't realised that the walls of the bamboo bungalows I was staying in were so thin. They were also semi-detached bungalows so I could here everything from the guy next doors early morning fart to him singing in the shower - loverly!
Anyway managed to squeeze in another hours sleep before my alarm went off at 4.30 and set off shortly after breakfast at 6.00am. It was some 30 minutes later before I managed to shake the aftertaste of the dire coffee that was served along with it.
It was still dark and a little chilly, but as the morning wore on it just got hotter and hotter and hotter. I was glad that I had manged to get about half way up the hill before I really felt the effects of the sun.
It took about 4.5 hours to climb the hill past various small houses that have been built along the path, by people who obviously sell things to the massess as they trudge up this hill to pray at the Golden Rock.
Sweet kids in villiages all eager to pose for photos when they find out that I have a digital camera.
Unfortunately no real views of surrounding countryside until I was right at the top but this is not really an issue. One strange thing along the way was that everybody seemed to be making toy guns and swords out of bamboo to sell to anybody passing, I would have thought this was the last thing that would appeal over here.
Got chargeda whopping $8 entrance fee, including a $2 camera charge. Should have been more clever and tryed to conceal the camera instead of walking into the office with it in my hand. Still I managed to pay some in Kyats which gave me a small discount. I know it isn't much but this is one of the charges that goes straight to the government and I want to avoid those as much as possible really.
The whole pagoda thing at the top was quite strange really. I can see why it is considered so holy because there is nothing really higher than the rock, which just seems to be balanced on a slope. It is hard to see how it might have appeared there, maybe it was just erroded by the wind or something like that. I was also told that the rock actually moves ever so slightly when it is pushed, but it makes no sound.
I was absolutely sweating in the midday sun, but most of the locals all had wool jumpers on and it didn't seem to bother them at all.
Something particularly strange that happened whilst I was there is that 4 Myanmar girls approched me and asked if they could each have their photo taken with me in front of the rock - Obviously not many foriegners make it this far in the country.
Stayed at the top for quite a while, it was really pleasant up there, great views of surounding hills and countryside. The rock itself is a lot bigger than I had thought and I was allowed right up to it and to touch it, however there are a lot of signs saying that women are not allowed anywhere near to it. People travel far and wide to pray here and they all seem to stick some gold leave onto the base of the stone.
I Couldn't find the monk that I had met yesterday so I decided to walk back down again. I am not sure what was more tiering the walk or having to say hello to each and everyone that I met on the way. The trail now being quite busy with locals who were arriving on their pilgramidge ot the rock.