Thursday, July 5, 2012

Sigiriya, Sri Lanka: Lion's Rock

Third day, and already we were heading to our fourth Sri Lanka World Heritage Site. The country has eight. While I want to be all braggy about that (and the public transport near-death experiences we survived on the way to these sites), I reckon another incident deserves a brighter spotlight. A relationship milestone between me and my backpacking partner, the hubby.

So I looked at Sigiriya's rock fortress for the first time and pointed out, "We're climbing that? Where's the staircase?!". Gulp.
It was April of last year, two months before we set off to travel the whole world. Earlier that day, after our The Golden Temple of Dambulla visit, we hired a tuktuk driver to take us to Sigiriya and do a quickie stop somewhere for lunch. He brought us to some dingy cafeteria that charged $7 for two pieces of chicken that's prolly reheated a hundred times, a plate of stale rice, and about five teeny bowls of mysterious curried stuff. You see, I'm all for dingy so long as it equates to dirt-cheapness. Now let me tell you, that $7 is ridiculous for a cafeteria meal in Sri Lanka.

Couldn't even sink my teeth into this leg.
Hubby did the math (I never do) when they handed the bill. His usual stern face grew a wee bit sterner. Sometime between giving the waiter "the look" (which I must say, wasn't intimidating at all) and handing the rupees he muttered, "I want to spit on the bill.". But he didn't. In fact he peacefully left the cafeteria and hopped on the tuktuk without a word. And that, my folks is... Drumroll... The first time I saw him furious! So you guys go "Wow, that's a bit of an anti-climax!" since no ninja kicks were exhibited. But yeah, I learned that his normal self is not any different from his angry self.

Halfway up the rock is a hanging shelter we were to climb. Can you see it? Another gulp.

Except, his average words per minute dropped to two. When the driver dropped us off the ticket booth, I felt like I was on my own. With an escort who made himself useful as a photographer. After paying a hefty amount of $30 each for admission, we hurriedly scuttled after pilgrims hoping they'd lead us up the summit.

Not for the faint hearted. Final ascent to the famous ancient paintings is through a dizzying spiral staircase.

We passed through entryways between massive boulders, staircase after staircase. The climb was surprisingly uncomplicated, though could be a challenge for someone afraid of heights. And someone with a fear of dodgy, rusty structures that cling onto a vertical rock wall. 

About to step on a platform built in God-knows-when century.
My legs wobbled as I took each step up. We reached the viewing platform for the paintings within minutes, and waited for a crowd of locals to move over. A few little rascals jokingly jumped about and the hanging metal floor beneath our feet shook as if there was a magnitude 5 earthquake. Hubby merely shrugged.

Lion's Rock is famed for these.
The beautiful fifth-century paintings are survivors of a humongous set of frescoes that once covered about 140 meters wide and 40 meters high of the rock's western face. For what purpose, I really don't know. I can only imagine how breathtaking this immense gallery was. And the artists' suicidal tendencies. These were painted during the reign of King Kassapa, and believed to have been wiped out (at least not entirely) when the old palace was converted into a Buddhist monastery so as not to disturb the monks' meditation.

Passing by the "Mirror Wall".

Since there weren't much of them to gawk at (and because we were scared for our lives), we left the rowdy youth behind and pushed on. Down the spiral staircase we went and through a cliff side corridor that passes by the Mirror Wall. It's named so for its highly polished porcelain surface that resembles a mirror. On it are verses dating from the sixth to the fourteenth century, engraved by various visitors. Wait, 'verses' sound too poetic, when actually some of the inscriptions are mere comments about the frescoes. Think of it as some ancient Facebook wall.

Took a photo of this not realizing it's actually part of a pair. Otherwise I would have asked for a shot in between paws, like this one below.

Mostly inebriated in his travels, yet Ron of does his research well. Unlike highly caffeinated me. Or was it the guide that spoonfed him the info?

Final stretch of ascent is through another set of rusty staircases. The solitary entrance of which, except if you go all Spiderman, is through the ruins of a colossal brick structure shaped as a lion. The Lion Staircase is one of Sigiriya's most prominent features. And from here it only takes less than ten minutes more to the summit. Could be longer due to human traffic.

Palace ruins, and the view of the surrounding plains.
The ruins require one's flamboyant imagination, cause unfortunately, what's left are just base structures of the palace complex. No pillars, let alone ceilings... But enough to impress. Enough to show the brilliant masonry of its ancient civilization.

Taking it all in.

After roaming the whole expanse of the plateau, north to south, we sat to take it all in. It was then that we fully realized how grandiose of a project Sigiriya was during its time. The hubby's dark mood wore off, didn't really last anyway.  Everything's happy and shiny again. Until we envisioned the terrifying vista on the way down...

 ... And the hornets as big as our then newborn Luna, as this sign illustrates.


Not-So Refreshingly Sri Lanka (and it's all my fault) Series:

Photo Essay: Golden Temple of Dambulla, Sri Lanka
Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka: Ruins Of An Ancient Capital
Temple of The Tooth
The Kandy House
Not-So Refreshingly Sri Lanka
How To Apply For A Sri Lanka Tourist Visa In The Philippines


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Two2Travel said...
October 14, 2012 at 10:53 PM

Beautiful frescoes! Going down the stairs on the last pic seemed freaking scary though!

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
October 14, 2012 at 10:55 PM

I don't mind the altitude, it's the rusty stairs I was scared about. Gulp.

Ding Fuellos said...
October 14, 2012 at 11:28 PM

Grabe namang $7 meal yan! Being in the same situation, I would get mad, too! Food for me is number 1 when it comes to traveling. Nonetheless, the vista is awesome!

Evan Kristine said...
October 15, 2012 at 3:03 AM

I enjoyed reading this post. I am not so so afraid of heights but I could easily faint kung may yuyugyog dun sa hanging passage way! That would be the scariest joke someone can do if I'd be there :/

Francis Balgos said...
October 15, 2012 at 8:50 AM

The plains! oh! Buena Vista!
Natawa ako dun sa paw being part of a pair.
na miss mo nga! hihihi!
I would miss it too. knowing that I don't really listen to tour guides. :)

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
October 15, 2012 at 9:50 AM

Ding, yeah, really disappointing. Don't mind paying that if it was some fancy meal.

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
October 15, 2012 at 9:52 AM

Evan Kristine, not a funny joke at all. The whole time I was thinking, "Can't die, I got a seven month old infant!".

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
October 15, 2012 at 9:53 AM

Francis, we rarely hire guides. Haha!

killerfillers said...
October 15, 2012 at 10:36 AM

7USD for a chicken served in a newspaper?:) Expensive nga! Good thing going to the Lion's Rock is super worth it!

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
October 15, 2012 at 10:49 AM

True. We also had a review of our must-dos as travelers.

Reiza said...
October 15, 2012 at 11:27 AM

Ang cute magalit ni hubby. :) But I guess it was tempered down by the view from above.

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
October 15, 2012 at 12:38 PM

Haha, yeah! He didn't really seem that angry at all. He's always kept his cool.

Rizalenio said...
October 15, 2012 at 4:29 PM

First time for me to see the Lion's rock. Just imagining the way up made me feel tired already. Glad to see this through you. But seeing those masterpiece on wall, I think I'll TRY my best to climb this.

Ingat lagi sa maraming mga trips. Kisses to Luna. :)

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
October 15, 2012 at 5:19 PM

Aand... She kisses you back, Lito.

blissfulguro said...
October 15, 2012 at 7:56 PM

ang daming isaw na nun sa $7! tssss...

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
October 15, 2012 at 8:28 PM

Arrgh! Naalala ko tuloy yung isaw!

Traveling Morion said...
October 15, 2012 at 9:00 PM

halaka, 7$ na pla yung tsiken na yun? In fairness very interesting yung Lion's Rock. Katakot lang pag akyat:)

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
October 15, 2012 at 9:37 PM

Unfortunately, yes. I'll take Mini Stop chicken any day.

SunnyToast said...
October 16, 2012 at 8:40 AM

For sure nag panic ako sa rusty stairs! And for two pieces of chickn for $7 wow! Hahaha..that is why traveler really have a brave soul. Di koi to kaya kalowka! hahaha

soloflightEd said...
October 18, 2012 at 12:43 PM

haha, di ko alam kung paano ako magalit when ganun lang din ang chicken. mahal!

I want to go to Sri Lanka! :)

Ian | Going Places said...
October 19, 2012 at 1:15 PM

Mag-aala Spiderman ka dun sa hanging shelter? Yung parang nakaharap ka sa wall, hawak sa mga bakal patawid sa kabila base dun sa 5th pic? Delikado yun ah... Baka hindi ako tumawid dyan if ever.

Lisa Wood said...
October 19, 2012 at 8:20 PM

Gosh you guys were brave! The view sure looks worth it all - but gee those stairs...are they safe to have that many people walking on them at once?
And the paws picture....gorgeous!

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
October 19, 2012 at 8:28 PM

Didn't look safe, but since there was no warning whatsoever, we thought it can't be that bad.

Micamyx|Senyorita said...
October 21, 2012 at 3:41 AM

Oh my ang ganda! For sure ganda rin ng pagod lol. Ganda :D

Alin ang mas nakakapagod: Itong adventure na ito o yung sa Angkor Wat? hehe

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
October 21, 2012 at 11:53 AM

This is definitely scarier! Mainly because, all the while I keep thinking "I can't die, I gotta baby!".

CarmisCaprice said...
October 23, 2012 at 6:07 PM

Such a beautiful adventure! Love your travels sis! ;)

gelaikuting said...
October 31, 2012 at 2:50 AM

Wew! Astig! naalala ko tuloy yong Lion King :D It looks so scary nga, mukhang mas ok umakyat ng bundok...hehe

Travel deals India said...
February 1, 2013 at 1:28 PM

It is also said that Ravaan was staying in this mountain
and Ram killed some where their

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