Up on the mountain, among the clouds, there was a rock – a golden rock with a golden pagoda, just on the edge, almost hovering, almost floating, almost like in the dreams.
But it was real. The pagoda was a product of a tale and so much more, and even after the climb up the dangerous steep slopes on a pickup truck and then to the summit on foot, what we saw with our own eyes was the surreal picture of the legendary truth.
And again, it was the moments, during the journey and from the past, that stayed vivid and alive.
1. The Truck Ride & The Beautiful Burmese Family
On the wooden benches of the truck, I was squashed in between three groups of people: the pilgrims, the tourists, and the travellers. And excited as I was, I started observing the faces.
My eyes then fell upon this girl sitting beside me. She was probably just a few years younger, but was clearly in charge of her siblings sitting beside her. They all looked like their beautiful mother, who was sitting with their father near the rear end of the truck. A young Burmese family – full of innocence, full of grace, full of energy.
The children were awestruck by almost everything. They thought they were going to get motion sickness from the ride. It was clearly their first pilgrimage to this pagoda.
And smiling at them and with them, I wondered what life was like for these lovely children, and ultimately what future held for them in their circumstances.
Till today, I wonder if the graceful, beautiful young girl who sat beside me is already married by now.
Whether she has taken the path “trodden black” or has chosen “the one less traveled by”, I guess I will never know.
2. The Endless Summit Platform
I have been to Kyai-Khtee-Yoe twice, and my first time was on a summer school trip. And my favourite memory of it was when the night fell and the summit was lit up by the lights.
I was in my shorts (if you are a female, you are allowed to wear as such only if you are a child) and I practically ran amok, chasing my friends on the endless summit platform under the glittering orange lights and the black sky. We waved our bamboo “guns” up in the air (one of the most famous toys for Burmese children and you can only buy them at Kyai-Khtee-Yoe), which made extremely annoying and loud cracking noises.
Somehow it was a sense of paradoxical freedom. Creating and enjoying havoc at such a sacred place. But I reckon when you are a child, everything just seems so carefree and more magical.
3. The Walkways, The Stalls, & The Surroundings in The Clouds
Somehow, in my imagination, the summit of Kyai-Khtee-Yoe always remains like a dreamy place in another world. Perhaps it was the clouds, but even the walkways connecting to other mountain tops gave the same feeling.
Even when you try to choose a restaurant to eat. Even when you walk along and admire the vibrant, colourful stalls.
You can also hike around the area to find other mountains and waterfalls.
A Little Homework Help!
- The best time to go is in between November and March. It will be crowded with the local pilgrims but of course, it gives the perfect setting for the true nature of the place. The weather (winter) would be the best too.
- Try to hike at least for one part of the climb if you are able to. You will be able to see small sheds along the trail where families live (and sometimes operate small stalls for living).
- Direct buses leave from Yangon and Mawlamyaine to Kin-Pun Station (the base of the mountain).
- If you drive (or hire a car and/or a driver for a day), the journey will look like this:
Park at Kin-Pun Station -> Take A Pickup Truck -> Climb Up To The Summit Along The Pilgrim Path
The magic of Kyai-Khtee-Yoe cannot be possibly captured by words and pictures alone.
If it’s your wish, I hope you can there one day to witness the myth on your own.
May you find your peace and clarity in the moment of truth,