We arrived at the main entrance of Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda. There were a lot of people here, many waiting for their friends and their luggage. Nearby was “Lady’s Changing Room”. This was the place where women wearing short pants, long pants, and skirts, tight or revealing dresses were asked to change their clothes to Myanmar longyi (sarong) and proper clothing. The reason was “against Burmese custom”. The first pagoda (stupa) on the way to Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda was Lwan Zedi (Feeling Blue Pagoda). Next one was Kyauk-sampan Zedi (Rocky Boat Pagoda). Nearby was the Shwe Nan Kyin Spirit Shrine where there was a depiction of the history of Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda.
We continued along the main road and finally arrived at the main terrace of Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda. The terrace was very large. However, when there were so many visitors to the pagoda, many people could not get a room and had to sleep on this terrace, and sometimes even this large place was not enough for all the visitors. Children love the terrace of Kyaikhtiyo very much and we saw a lot of children running and playing all over the place in the evening.
The first thing we did as soon as we arrived at Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda was to go and pay homage to Lord Buddha at the pagoda. On the left side were candle lights and incense offered by the devotees. On the right side were flowers and “coconut and banana offerings”. (Translator’s Note: In Myanmar, it is customary to offer a bucket with a coconut fruit in the middle, surrounded by bananas, with other offerings, to Lord Buddha, monks, spirits or elders). In the middle was a small iron bridge to cross to the main pagoda. Females were not allowed to this part of the pagoda. Only males were allowed to enter. If you want to offer gold foil to the Golden Rock, you had to cross this bridge to go to the Rock.
Once finished, the next important thing was to fill up our stomach. We left the pagoda and walked along the Mouksoe Taung (Hunter’s Mountain) Road. Along the road were all restaurants, shops, convenient stores, snack shops, guest houses, bathrooms and toilets. Whatever you need, you had to come here. The road was very crowded. We had tea and breakfast at one of the tea shops.
The next place we visited was Kyauk-htat-kyi (Kyauk-htat-gyi) Pagoda, about one and a half mile away. It took us one hour to reach there. We walked along a small green and beautiful lane that led to Kyauk-htat-kyi Pagoda.
At Kyauk-htat-kyi Pagoda, we witnessed an interesting thing. There was a promotional service where you can donate the gold foil to the pagoda. You can donate gold foil in any pagoda in Myanmar, not just here, so you might wonder what is different here. The difference is, the pagoda is high up on the cliff, and you cannot climb up there. However, there was a man, called Rope Prince by himself, who would collect the gold foils and would climb up the rope to the pagoda and donate gold foils for you there. It was quite a dangerous job, but it seemed it was quite popular among the visitors. He said he had to climb up more than 30 times a day.
We were quite hungry, but decided to have lunch only when we arrived to Kyi-kan-pa-sat (Raven’s Mouth) Pagoda. However, we had some snacks at a small fretter shop that sells gourd fretters.
First was Angel’s pool (Nat-yay-kan). According to legend, whoever took a bath in this pool becomes younger again. Nowadays, this pool is only for drinking purpose as water resources are very scarce here. People believe if you drink water from this pool, it will cure your kidney problems. A few minutes from here was Kyi-kan-pa-sat (Raven’s Mouth). We found a small restaurant and had our lunch with rabbit meat. Only when we paid for the meal we realized that rabbit meat is extremely expensive – 4,000 kyat (US4 3.7) a dish. (Translator’s note: normally, other dishes would cost around 500 kyats, but in Kyaikhtiyo, everything becomes twice expensive. The place called Raven’s Mouth was actually a small shape in the rock which looked like a raven’s beak. There was a small tunnel below this beak like rock. Legend was that this tunnel reached to Pounlaung River (in upper Burma). Here at Kyi-kan-pa-sat, visitors can send quarter kyat coins to heaven. You bought four quarter-kyat (25 pyas) coins at 100 kyat, and threw them into the mouth and pray. Many people throw the coins into the mouth until they entered into the mouth. So what happened when the coin entered the mouth? Well, you don’t need to pick up and throw again! After a while, the members of the pagoda’s committee climbed up into the mouth, and sold the coins again to new visitors.
After the Raven’s Mouth, we went back to Kyaikhtiyo pagoda. Our feet were really aching with pain. On the way, there was a place where you can apply traditional herbal analgesic lotion free of charge. I was here before several times and knew that the medicine was really effective so I applied a lot this time.
Original article in Burmese at PK’s Blog. Photo by Mg Moe Swe.