Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Cambodia Chronicles Three: Climbing to the Top

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

When the light from the sun has begun to dim and our strength has been depleted from an entire day of traipsing from one monument to another, we set out for Phnom Bakheng, the temple sitting atop a hill north of Angkor Wat. Along with what seemed like hundreds of other tourists, we made our way up the 60-meter hill through a winding path in the forest. Willing my exhausted legs to function, I tried to keep up with the group rushing to get to the top to catch the setting of the sun. The half hour climb had a numinous feel with only the trampling of numerous feet and the lonely cry of the cicadas breaking the afternoon silence. Though walking side by side, each person was alone with his or her thoughts.

Reaching the top, we saw the quincunx of sandstone towers that crowned the temple and its steep stairs going all the way to the top. On all fours and with feet turned sideways, we painstakingly climbed those perilous stairs to get a glimpse of the sun setting on the ancient kingdom of Angkor. The view from the top turned out to be disappointingly dismal. The golden sun we all looked forward to hid beneath the leaden sky.

As we walked back, I felt dead tired yet surprisingly invigorated. The uphill hike made me happy, and I didn’t really mind missing that sought for sunset. It was the climb that mattered and not what’s there on top.


witsandnuts said...

I was going to say, too, that the climb matters more. What an experience!

Anonymous said...

next time take an elephant taxi. :)

Angeli said...

@witsandnuts: oh yes, it was a great experience. :)

@anonymous: if we waited for a ride on those elephants, we would've reached the top the next day pa. hahaha..

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