Golden Rock Perched on a Hair of the Buddha - Myanmar

Down south in Myanmar is a rock.

Kyaiktiyo Pagoda - perched on the top of a mountain. (Beautiful sunsets, too!)

A large one. 
At the edge of a precipice.

Held in place by one hair of the Buddha. 
Kyaiktiyo Pagoda.

(Yes, there's a golden pagoda on top-) 

Pilgrims press squares of gold leaf onto the rock, light candles, and pray.

(But only men. Women are not allowed to touch the golden rock.)

It's an 8 mile walk up. 
But now they take pilgrims up in large metal trucks. 

They took us, too. 

The mountain is VERY steep.

At night, it's a festive atmosphere. 
Disco lights, candle offerings.

Families camping out. Excited kids running around. 

Gold and glass and statues and candles everywhere. 
Quite the party. 

Guys selling horns and noisemakers. 
Groups up from the country sleeping out at the top of the mountain. 

The inns are full.

There are not many foreigners. 
People do a wonderful double take when they see us. 

Everyone has a cell phone, so they try to take a photo of us - without our noticing it.

Plenty of melons, limes, pomelos, huge avocados, fish, rice, noodles, fresh veggies, fruits, chilies, nuts and spices. Myanmar has some of the finest fruits and vegetables I've ever seen.

A Burmese full moon Thanksgiving.

All thanks to the Golden Rock.

And the hair of the Buddha that holds it in place.

On the Road! Next: 5 Months in Southeast Asia.

I know it's not for everyone. 
A number of people have told me so recently. 

I understand. 
It would be a difficult world if everyone wanted the same things. 

But I'm (still) compelled to go exploring. 
There is so much that I know nothing about!

So many places to investigate.

This is my pack. With folding umbrella in the side pocket. About 8 kg.

We're heading to Asia for 5 months.
The first month, we'll be in Myanmar (Burma).

It's been on my "list" since I was a kid. 

They just had their first election in 25 years.  
The results are looking good, but - anything's possible. 

It's always a delicate balance, our world.

No credit cards, and ATMs are rare - if they exist at all. 

We're supposed to bring unfolded, new, pristine US dollar notes. 
Nothing older than 2006, and preferably without the letters AB or BC (I think).

My local Wells Fargo bank branch had a lot of fun searching for bills that fit that description! They have NO idea where I'm going, and I didn't try to explain. Everyone had their cash drawers open - "Is this one okay?" "How about this one?" 

It was great.

Then - we'll return to Bangkok, where son Erik works.

With him, we'll go sailing - to the Mergui (Myeik) Archipelago. 

It's in the Andaman Sea.

No, I had never heard of it, either. 

Apparently, it's beautiful. 

But impossible to explore there except by living on a boat. 

I thought it was part of Burma, but apparently, the people of Myeik have other ideas. 
I'll know more afterwards. 

Uncharted territory - at least for me.

That takes us only to early January. 
After that, for the following 3.5 months, not a clue.

Sulawesi? Borneo? Komodo? Luang Prabang? Borocay? Hoi An? 

Not sure. Nothing planned.

But - somewhere in SE Asia.

It just FEELS like this is how much I'm carrying! But my pack is VERY small.
There's a rule: No matter how much you take, it's always too much.

We leave early tomorrow morning.
I'm pretty excited.

I'm not counting on any Wi-Fi in Burma, so Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

See you on the other side.