We did not need the 5 AM alarm clock, as the trucks had already started driving past our hotel at 4 AM. Goodness knows where they were going as it is not a main road. We got up and packed the car quickly and set off in the dark at 5:45 AM. Fortunately the road was in very good condition and there was very little traffic. We drove through some small villages, being careful to avoid underlit motorcycles and pedestrians and animals. Soon, though, the Sun began to rise and we could see that we had left ahead of the trucks or still parked beside the road in the towns. We made good progress and reached the turning for the Pagoda. We had calculated that the excursion would take us three hours and that we would be back down by the time our lazy start friends caught up.
The Kyaiktiyo pagoda is a large, nearly spherical gilded rock, perched on a cliff, seemingly by magic. Actually it is held there because it is attached by one of Bhudda's hairs. To get to the rock we first drove to the town of King porn where we were greeted by people keen to offer us a space to park the car, for a fee! We followed a lad on a motorbike into a narrow alleyway between two shops and parked up next to some taxis. We stopped in a shop for Debbi to buy a longwi to cover her legs at the pagoda, then boarded a truck for the drive to the top of the hill along with many excited local tourists on a pilgrimage. Only really macho men need apply for the job of driving the trucks with their cargo squashed onto benches, up the steep and rough track to the top of the hill. It was a thrilling ride!
We had been told that there was a new cable car for the last part that would save us the long walk at the top - so we bought tickets for it at special foreigner price, whilst everyone else seemed to remain on the bus! At the top we discovered that the advert had been well photoshopped. The actual dismount Point was so further away than the truck stop! Never mind, we had enjoyed the ride and set off on our walk to the golden rock already some two hours into our allotted time. The walk was a delight amongst stalls selling everything that the pilgrim needs from incense to strange looking potions in little bottles. The rock itself was fabulous and we were very glad that we had come. Indeed a very special place. We put our shoes back on and had a quick coffee before heading back.
The trip down by truck was equally exciting and we regained our route some 4and a quarter hours after diverting. Never mind we had had a great adventure and the road for the rest of the day to Nay Pyi Daw was straightforward.