For a moment we thought we had to stay in Bangkok forever when the woman at the check-in told us that our flight hadn't been reconfirmed by our agency, but then she added that we were lucky because there were two free seats on the plane that day. Damn right we are lucky! So we made it to Myanmar and it was a very easy one-hour flight (but with half an hour time difference, which we found quite funny).
We decided to avoid Yangon and go straight to a little remote town, because we had just spent far too many days in a big city. Enough was enough! So we changed some dollars into kyats (in the black market just outside the airport) and headed off to Kinpun in a bus that took five hours and showed us the most beautiful landscape as the sun was setting in the horizon. Of course, there was a karaokee in the bus and we realised afterwards that all buses in Myanmar do have a karaokee (a bus with no karaokee would be like a bus with no wheels!).
We found a charming little guesthouse in Kinpun where they arranged absolutely everything for us: they changed money, walked you to the pick-up truck to go and visit Kyaiktiyo, booked our next bus trip, served breakfast at any time... but this we also realised afterwards is also normal in Myanmar. They really take care of you, but you're never too sure whether it is a means of spoiling the tourist or simply something imposed by the government so that they can keep good track of you at all times and make sure you don't go out of the way... (there are many places that are forbidden to tourist, so you basically see no poverty and everybody seems to be living happily under this military regime, it's a crazy country...). The funniest thing about our room at this guesthouse is that we had the biggest of salamanders in our room and, when I say big, I mean BIG. The creature was the size of my forearm!!! We had to sleep with that thing creeping all over the place, because when we tried to communicate our distress to the guesthouse boy, he simply replied: 'Don't worry, they are not dangerous'. So we had a pet, and what a pet! He seemed to get a liking for us, because he was there again on our second night.
From Kinpun we took a pick-up truck with some other ten foreigners from the UN and a big bunch of locals to Mount Kyaikto, where we were planning to visit the golden stupa of Kyaiktiyo. It's a massive, gold-leafed boulder delicately balanced on the very edge of a cliff at the top of Mount Kyaikto. It's also one of the holiest sights in the country for Buddhist and trekking the steep path is the object of devout pilgrims. We were just curious, of course, but it was worth the effort. Leyend says the boulder maintains its precarious balance due to a precisely placed Buddha hair in the 7.3m stupa that tops it!It was a very special place and it felt very nice to be climbing up together with all those Buddhist monks and smiling children. The rock is amazing, but we were gladly surprised to see that there was a whole village at the top of the mountain. The UN people told us that the whole place was burnt down in a fire last year and 33 people died, but of course that was not in the papers, because 'nothing bad ever happens in Myanmar'). We decided to climb down on foot and it was a very nice walk (we even got refreshed in a river we found on the way), but it turned out to be four hours walking, after which we had blisters and the worst cramps ever. Next morning, Mikel was cracking up at me because I walked in the same fashion as Frankenstein!
And that's that from Kyaiktiyo! Love you all,
Idoia & Mikel.