Steps, Steps and More Steps! – Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia Trip #3

November 23, 2008 at 12:07 am | Posted in itchy backside | 3 Comments
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After spending quite some time looking at the various galleries of bas-reliefs, we decided to explore around the architecture itself. The place was so big with many corners that I lost Tisu Boy…and was wandering on my own looking around when suddenly out from nowhere, this guy appeared smiling at me and asked me to follow him to a ‘room’ to pay respect to a buddha statue inside. I hesitated as it was dark inside, except for the tiny flame from the burning joss sticks…and there was no one else around. It was around lunch time, and most tourists would have gone for lunch. He kept waving to me to go inside, and I thought it was kinda ‘compulsory’ to pay respect whenever you see a buddha statue wrapped with yellow cloth. So ok lor, I went in, and took the joss sticks from his hand and offered it to the stone statue. Immediately, he pointed to a tin container at the side and asked for donation money! “Lucky, lucky!” he said, pointing his fingers at me and then at the container. Oh, only then I knew it was a way to earn some money from ignorant tourists! Arrrgh! :O

From the galleries, we could see stupa…

This flight of stairs had ugly wooden planks…I thought it was because
the original stones ones were giving way so these were for reinforcement…

The ugly wooden stairs from far…

It was only when we walked around the compound that we realised that the original stone steps were actually quite steep, so those ugly wooden planks were there to make climbing up easier as they were made to a gentler slope…

Tisu Girl in front of the stone steps…

It might look ok on picture, but the steps were actually quite steep and narrow, and they were not in the best of condition…

This flight of stairs seemed to be in the best condition out of the rest…

Tisu Boy wanted to go up to check it out, as now we could see where the tourists were…up there! :p While I have no problems going up, I always have problems coming down…so I told him to go up while I explore around…Initially I was happy just staying put taking pictures, but then I met another local guy who appeared again from nowhere and asked if we needed a guide. I declined politely but he continued and said he was a director of some free school for poor children. After the first encounter earlier, I was more alert this time and suspected that he was attempting to seek some donation for his ‘school’. Before he could go on, I smiled and walked away to join Tisu Boy up the first ‘easier’ level of stairs up…Wait for me! :p

I was glad it wasn’t too tough a climb!

Weather beaten…

There were many many apsaras on the walls and pillars…

So many and beautiful….

Different expression and postures…

Different costumes and head gears…see how well preserved these are?

You could just spend your time looking and counting them! 😀

Notice none of them shows their teeth? I read later that there was
only one apsara that smiled and showed her teeth…too bad didn’t know
that earlier…if not could have look for her 😦

Maintenance and preservation work in progress

Then Tisu Boy said he wanted to go up the second level to take a look. But hor, this time I seriously hesitated liao! So steep!

Can you see how steep this is? No? :O

See Tisu Boy needed to use his hand to aid in climbing….and these
were the most well-maintained stairs on the second level…!

Side view of the steep and narrow steps…

This was what Tisu Boy saw from above…a scary-baby Tisu Girl staying
below taking picture… 😮

There were many other tourists sitting around watching others climbing up and down the stairs. So I wasn’t the only scary-babies around…:o Then I saw Tisu Boy coming down…

Aiyo! See the steps! So steep, narrow and irregular!

See how these people needed to hold on to the railings at the side?
Only this side of stairs had the railings…

Tisu Boy urged me to go up to take a took. “Come lah, must see, very nice!” So nice meh? I looked at the many people who climbed up and came down safely…ok lor, since I came all the way here, should really go up and take a look….So with the help of Tisu Boy, I climbed up that most well-maintained stairs gingerly, one step by one step…wow! Si bay steep!

Another tourist struggling up…I couldn’t even see the steps from the top…
unless I were to take another small step nearer to the edge….NO WAY!
So scary…!

The view was nice…you could see very far and then…er…what’s that yellow thing…?

From here you could see the balloon!

See how tiny the balloon was? We should have know that no way we
could expect to see Angkor Wat nice and big from the balloon!
(We took the balloon on our second last day at Angkor Wat…)

Many buddha statues were left headless….many were exported to richer
neighbouring countries for private collection or sold to museums overseas

The biggest tower of Angkor Wat…

We were impressed by the sheer size of Angkor Wat and especially the many beautiful carving and bas-reliefs that had survived through time that we din realised how long we had spent there. Hungry and thirsty, we wanted to get some food. But hor, what goes up must come down….Now, how do I go down???!! :O The steps were so steep and narrow and I always have this phobia of going down….:O

In the end, I went to ‘queue’ at that flight of stairs with the railings to go down. Tisu Boy had to go down first to show me how to do it properly – by facing towards the stairs and not the other way round. Many old ancient temples had these tall and steep stairs constructed so that people would have to face the stairs, head down when climbing up or down, to show that human are more humble than god. I had to plunge all my courage to take the first step down, hands holding onto the railings all the time and eyes only concentrating on the next step down. I dunnu how many steps there were…maybe around fifty? Or about slightly more than one storey high? Not very sure…but because it was so damn steep and narrow, it was seriously very tough to make every single step! I found myself holding dearly onto the thin metal railing, worrying that it might give way under all the weight of the people. There were people above and below me, but I couldn’t make it any faster….:O The steps seemed so far apart, even with the newer extra steps added on, I found my legs were somehow not long enough to extend down fully….not realising it was due to my nervousness that all my leg muscles had cramped up…:O  I dared not look down beyond the next step…”Are we almost there? How many more steps” I kept asking Tisu Boy, who was at the same time trying to grab on to my foot to make me feel safer. “Almost liao, almost liao…” Wow! Reminded me of the time when I went trekking in Nepal – whenever you asked the guide if we were reaching, they would always smile and answer, “Twenty more minutes only!” 😮

Finally, after dunnu how long, I saw the last few steps and the many smiling (or gloating?) faces of the tourists sitting comfortably at the bottom looking at the people climbing up and down…I had made it! I made it! :O

Tisu Girl surviving the ordeal…:O Come on, four more steps to go!

By now my face was covered with cold sweat, my thighs were stiff from muscle cramps and had difficulties walking…even my arms felt sore…but I tried to put up a strong front and gave an awkward smile to the people looking at me…:o The way down certainly felt like eternity…Aiya, it was really very steep leh…there were cases of people injured from falling and in fact, this railing was added after a tourist’s wife (French I think) fell and died here. He donated money to add this railing to prevent more tragedies from happening and thanks to him, more people are able to appreciate Angkor Wat safely.

Walk around the compound to look for the angle where you could see
all five towers together..can’t remember this was facing which direction though…

A sunrise or sunset at Angkor Wat is definitely worth waiting for!

Also see related posts:
> Walls of Art – Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia Trip #2
> Up, Up and Away! – Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia Trip #1



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  1. wow

  2. stunning! thanks for the virtual tour…. the pictures are so well taken =)

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