I am Lion, Hear Me Roar!

Sigiriya – Lion’s Rock. Epic. Towering.

The tiny white statue is actually
a huge Buddha up-close!

Early in the morning, we had breakfast in preparation for our trek up Sigiriya, Sri Lanka’s famed UNESCO site and a stop on the Amazing Race, Season 6. We loaded up on water, lightened our packs, and set out for what some decried as “difficult for nonathletic people”. I would categorize myself as a “nonathletic” person, so I wondered if I would wither off the rock at some point. Also, the tour brochure said it was not suitable for people with vertigo. Two strikes.

But, darn it, if I’d scaled the Great Wall twice, I could master this rock. And I would. Even if it took me longer, I would do it.

The day is sunny and humid, of course, but the climb is a lot more gentle initially than I thought it would be. Since there is only one way up and one way down (generally, the same path), the clog of people made for frequent rest stops going up. The monkeys, with their floppy hairdos, were extremely funny, though I whisked away one with the admonition of, “I’ve seen the movie Outbreak. Get away from me.”

From the Fresco Wall

The scenery from the rock was truly astounding. Misty mountains rose around us, reflected in mirror-like lakes and surrounded by lush green jungles. To say Sri Lanka is beautiful is an understatement; it’s beautiful because it’s still unspoiled by major development. So, if you like undeveloped Asia, visit Sri Lanka soon – the placement of fast highways from Colombo to other big cities and huge hotels going up along the Indian Ocean front will soon bring a lot of development to the small island.

Part of the way up, we encountered some super-friendly (albeit annoying) Sri Lankan boys who just keep chatting away at us and trying to get a little too close. Apparently, it’s common, according to our driver, that they talk to Western girls a lot and try to act like what they see in Hollywood films. This group reminded me a lot of The Outsiders more than anything else.

Also half-way up was a set of spiral stairs leading to a few nude frescos that still line the walls of the rock. By the time we make it through there, with no fresh breeze, you definitely smell the sweat. Whew. I was happy to be out in the open again!

Don’t “paw” me.

Near the top was the famed Lion’s Paws, which indicate that people were nearly to the very top of the rock. We rested there for a moment, and then we started the final ascent up the iron stairs. I had to pull myself up there with the railing, but I was going to do it. Vertigo wasn’t really an issue since the stairs were sturdy, but the wind was really intense. I had to hold on to my sunglasses and my hat, lest it blow away.

Ah, the top of the rock! The scene was even more beautiful from the ruins of the old palace. Old crocodile canals ranged around the rock, and there were somewhat visible from up there. Bathing pools  at the top were empty, but it was crazy to think of how people lived up there. Or how, before the nice iron railings, they even hauled themselves up there…

Spiral stairs going up to
the frescos

At least the King was well-protected!

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