To Golden Rock

To The Golden Rock, Kamayut Township
 
 
 
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 After breakfast, our ‘shuttle lift’ to the bus stop turned out to be one of the hostel workers walking us to the main road where he would flag down a bus. Nice to stand by the river for twenty minutes and watch the morning mist clear.
 
 
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Everyone else was heading to Yangon and stood in the dusty shade opposite.
 
 
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We said farewell as the first bus took everyone but us two. I enjoyed watching a local working girl come in.
 
 
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Our bus came and I hadn’t realised we had a tiny 15 16 at the corner of our hand written ticket, so I innocently by-passed a screaming child and a woman shouting above the din on her telephone in preference for settling at the back. Handsome curtains we thought in a delicate shade of purple with orange petals.
 
 
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Lovely electrickery with booming prayers. At the first stop a couple of lads got on and came back to our seats. A lady who spoke English asked if we were happily settled. Ooo yes, and with that the lads hurried to seats 15 and 16 thinking this was some sort of upgrade. The bus stopped for lunch and everyone but us got off, the driver came back to mime food going in to his mouth but we explained we were happy. Two hours later we all got off, a bargain at two pounds fifty each.
 
 
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We left the bus at Kyaikto and had read that persistent motorbike, tuk tuk, taxi and just about anything that could be made to move would be at us for the onward journey. One man clung to me and insisted I look at a picture of his shambles of a truck. All I wanted was a price. Five pounds, five pounds, lots of head shaking as the chap thought a barter session was about to begin......... We headed for the bus/truck stop. En route we watched as an upright freezer came odd a trusty steed, a man asked Kinpun and on we got. Happy locals and a few tourists settled along a bench each side. Our truck/bus then took us the short distance to the actual ‘bus stop’.
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Here, a form was pulled out from under another making three rows. Twenty four of us squeezed in and several on the roof. The ‘conductor’ hung on at the back.
 
 
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The road was a good one for the first ten minutes, then things got a bit bumpy depending on which side of the roadworks we ended up on. Size matters here and often we had to move on to the rough side for lorries and coaches but this thirty five minute journey for twenty five pence became our all-time bargain bus journey.
 
 
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At Kinpun we were offered rooms, lifts, food and every stallholder went for us like kindly labradors. Bear led the way to the ‘bus’ stop. We knew from reading this was where a real adventure would begin......
 
 
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Note to self, get in an empty lorry at the front as there is slightly more leg room as we squeezed in the third row. On our row there was a man and baby, another man, Bear and me. I tried hard to buy the seat beside me, no, a row must have six (the baby didn’t count). I wouldn’t yield my end of row seat as I needed breathing space and thought my case would allow this if it was half propped up. Very fortunately the conductor went to the queue and chose the two smallest people he could find and in they wiggled between the two of us. Behind us, all packed in and down the very back, our case became a seat. Again, we were warned that the gap behind the back seat would also hold six, wiggled in on the floor. Just before we set off we saw a sign. If you want a seat on your own in the front cab it will cost fifteen pounds. The two of us would be shared. A few times on the way up we both thought about that option.................
 
 
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Off we went my bottom firmly perched on the mans knees behind me and the lady in front was sitting softly on my knees. Soon we passed the repair shop. One that didn’t make it.
 
 
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Along the only flat straight we briefly saw the Golden Rock.
 
 
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All began quite gently. The lady in front of me suddenly pulled her neck into her chest cavity and began to pray, her hat resting on her shoulders. Mmmm, clearly one that has done this trip before.......
 
 
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The road became a little rougher, we stopped, a lady with a drinks tray on her head touted her goods and the ‘conductor’ took a pound from each of us, on we went to our first hair-pin.
 
 
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Bear smiles and we look up at the next stretch of road.
 
 
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One of the many curves.
 
 
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Half way up, a rock to wet the appetite. The view became quite special.
 
 
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Fifty minutes of full-on fun later, we looked at the vehicle that brought us up, now empty of forty two people plus the six that had squeezed in the cab with the driver. It really does look like something that would pull up on rails at a fun fair. We had our fill on a ride that can best be described as the Waltzer at Battersea Fun Fair or Dreamland at Margate.........We smoothed our clothes, composed our nerves and bimbled on.
 
 
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Now we ran the gauntlet of the hoards of men wielding baskets who wanted to carry our bags for fifty pence. One very persistent chap stayed with us in case we changed our minds. We by-passed the palanquins and tired bearers, we pointed to the wheels on our cases and really not wanting to be hefted up, sit on a wooden seat and be carried for fifteen minutes. The edge of the mountain top village. 
 
 
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Plenty of market stalls, eateries and snack vendors. Bear pointed to the next hillock, our digs are just over there.
 
 
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Settled, no we had booked a double and we had been shown to a very damp-smelling single. Soon put right and now looking down on the washing line. Eyes higher a gorgeous, uninterrupted view over the mountains.
 
 
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Beds settled under a picture, we guess is there to serve as a reminder of why we just did the ‘journey’ we did............
 
 
 
 
ALL IN ALL NOT FOR THE NERVOUS 
                     ONE OF THE MORE INTERESTING JOURNEYS OF MY LIFE