The Golden Rock and Hpa-an Cave Temples

There was one site in Myanmar that greatly intrigued me; the Golden Rock. It’s a big golden rock and supposedly contains one of Buddha’s hairs. I just needed to see it, or rather to experience it because that’s very much what it is, an experience. You’re mixed up with Myanmar people and see very few Western tourists. After that it was time to continue eastward towards the Thai border but on the way Hpa-an was a great finale to Myanmar.

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In my final few days in Myanmar there was one more important golden pagoda to see…
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…and it just happened to be on top of a giant golden rock perched on a cliff…
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…which happened to be up on a mountain. As an aside, the truck drive up the mountain was extremely windy and the driver didn’t waste any time at all. As a result I had a kid on either side of me throw up. Luckily their mothers had plastic bags otherwise as it was so cramped there was no escape
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Here people are affixing gold leaf to the golden rock. I say people but I really mean men as women are not allowed to cross the small bridge to reach the rock
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The Golden Rock is a hugely important religious site in Myanmar, second only to the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon
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Even though the rock is large, it is small in comparison to the enormous complex that surrounds it. Dozens of shops, restaurants and hotels cater to the thousands of pilgrims
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There were other golden rocks too but none as impressive as the golden rock
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Moving on to nearby Hpa-an and it’s wonderful caves
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Pagodas, statues and the natural beauty of the caves created a unique ambiance

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Another cave (this one had an entry fee- not worth it, however) had thousands of miniature Buddha statues (oh and of course large ones too)
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The landscape is incredible. I mean that, as it’s actually hard to believe there is a monastery on the peak on the right (you can even stay there but I saw that tourists are not allowed but they are)
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In a captivating area called Lumbini Gardens (maybe, maybe not) there are literally loads of Buddha statues
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See? I wasn’t lying, loads of them
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The final cave I visited was the most impressive (and expansive)
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The cave was immense and contained some fantastic things
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After traversing the cave you emerge on the other side and can take a boat back to the cave’s entrance
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The short boat journey lasts approximately one small Chang beer

Next up: Traversing Northern Thailand

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