Phnom Bakheng at Angkor Wat, Cambodia

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May 18th 2008
Published: June 21st 2017
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Stairs leading up to the temple on top of the hillStairs leading up to the temple on top of the hillStairs leading up to the temple on top of the hill

...not the route we took. These ancient steps are in need of a little repair.
Geo: 13.4691, 104.041

Phnom Bakheng at Angkor, Cambodia, is a Hindu temple in the form of a temple mountain. Dedicated to Shiva, and built at the end of the 9th century, during the reign of King Yasovarman (889-910 A.D.). Phnom Bakheng was constructed more than two centuries before Angkor Wat, and was in its day the principal temple of the Angkor region. Phnom Bakheng is a symbolic representation of Mount Meru, the home of the Hindu gods, a status even more emphasized by the temple's location atop a really, really steep hill. Did I mention it was steep? There was the option to take an elephant up to the top of the hill, but most opted to walk up so I did as well.

If my guide had told me what the stairs of this ruin were like....OMG. I'm really glad he didn't, because I might have had second thoughts about going. Firstly, if you've been to any ruin anywhere you know that steps are never even - not in depth or in height. Funny the things we take for granted in the west, like steps being even in depth and height. So, at any ruin you have to literally watch your step, every step. The stairs up to this ruin were about as deep as the ball of your foot, so it was really more like going up a stone ladder rather than a stone staircase. And then the height of each stair was mostly really tall but really inconsistent. A couple times the steps were so tall I had to grab the fabric of my pants above my knee and pull up some slack just so I could get my knee up that high. Can you still call it a step when you have to adjust your slacks in order to proceed?

Once at the top the view was worth it, and the trek up in retrospect was really fun.

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