The sight of the gravity-defying Golden Rock at the top of Mount Kyaiktiyo in Myanmar is believed to be enough of an inspiration for any person to turn to Buddhism. According to legend, a strand of the Buddha’s hair was used to balance the Golden Rock, as it perpetually appears to be on the verge of rolling down the mountainside.

A small pagoda is built on the top of the granite boulder, which acquired its regal color from gold leaves pasted on by devotees. Kyaiktiyo Golden Rock Pagoda is one of Myanmar’s holiest Buddhist pilgrimage sites.

I went aboard a crowded truck to get to the mountaintop temple on my last day in Myanmar. Throughout the daylight hours, I had only seen a few glimpses of the sun because it was too cloudy and the mountaintop was surrounded by thick mist. It even rained briefly on my way up.

I didn’t expect a stellar sunset but I still stayed at the temple grounds until the last minute so I could make the most of the last hours of my 10 week trip around South East Asia.

At the last 20 minutes before nightfall, the sky unexpectedly opened up and basked the entire mountaintop with a heavenly veil of golden light. The view was perfect and I was so thankful that I got to take a beautiful photo out of it.

Just when I thought my day couldn’t get any better, I had another unexpected surprise on my way down Mt. Kyaiktiyo.