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December 18, 2003

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Not being Buddhist, we wonder what our pilgrimage means to a golden rock. The boulder, covered by gold leaf, balances on a cliff edge and wears a zedi like a party hat. The balancing act makes it sacred. Buddhists claim that a single hair from Buddha keeps the boulder from rolling off the edge.
The Kyaiktiyo boulder shrine used to be off-limits for camera-toting tourists. Vehicles remain banned so pilgrims hike to the top of the mountain.
To reach the trailhead that leads to Kyaiktiyo, we sit on a flatbed truck crammed with Burmese pilgrims.
Walking up the trail we stop for refreshments: snake stew and bear claw appetizers.