A special rock

Wednesday was one of those those days that I will not forget for a long time.

After a five hour train trip from Yangon, I too made the pilgrimage up Mt Kyaikhtiyo (Golden Rock), to join the thousands of Buddhists visiting this sacred site.

There are two ways up the mountain, by foot (six hours) or by truck. I chose truck. Even more of an open air experience than the train, the trucks are sardine-packed with the devout and wind their way uphill with amazing speed. Quite a challenge to take photos and hang on for dear life at the back, but a lot of fun.

The rock itself is, well ........ round and golden, with a little stupa on top. It's a huge, balancing boulder and the combination of a spectacular location, lush green vegetation and people watching made it an experience well worth coming for.

Equally intriguing were the quirky stalls selling hats, preserved fruit and wooden toys, although I remain confused about the need to sell wooden guns at a religious site ........

It was also unforgettable at a very personal level and I will always regret the decision to eat that bloody fried rice before heading up. Such was my experience on the top that the camera barely made it out of my bag and I left a lot more of myself on that sacred site than will ever be healthy.

Travel always has its ups and downs.