“Stop faffing and get up there now!” the guest house owner might as well have said to me. The first dry day in weeks and despite my long bus journey, she was quite sure that me kicking back in a chair was not the correct option.
I reluctantly agreed. Despite an overcast sky it seemed wise to take the opportunity and not risk the morning weather. Just getting to the entrance gate though turned out to be a chore. The previous rain had turned the path into a mud bath. Walking it was at times treacherous and wasn’t helped by the signs that informed walkers of the presence of crocodiles. Just what I needed on the footpath!
When inside it all becomes worth it. Its hard not to feel like an ant in comparison to the gigantic rock fortress that emerges from the jungle. In the flat scenery that it is a part of, it is one of the most imposing sites I have ever seen. It’s a decent climb to the top taking in muddy slopes, uneven steps and spiral staircases. On the way up you pass Buddhist paintings clinging to a cave wall, potentially dating back to the 5th century. There’s also a mirror wall with graffiti from over a thousand years ago. In local script it’s not something you can decipher but it’s age is impressive enough. Most striking however is the huge lion paws about halfway up. Around the height of me, one can only imagine what it must have been like as part of a domineering statue of a lion scaling the height of the rock. At the top are the remains of what is now thought to be a Buddhist temple. Unfortunately due to the weather the views were not as good as they could be but you got a good sense of the jungle that surrounds it and the mountain peaks in the distance. This huge rock is quite literally in the middle of nowhere. Just when I was enjoying the success of then climb, the heavens opened and I got drenched. The guest house manager was right to a point!