After our day at Banteay Srei, Honored Guide said the thing to do was to see Sunset at Phnom Bakheng. I had no idea what I was getting into.
First off, the parking area was mobbed. Tour busses, cars, tuk-tuks, motorcycles, bikes, elephants and water buffalo were all on a collision course. It was chaos. We followed the herd up the hill.
They were offering elephant rides up the mountain. It was sort of tempting, till I got close. Holey Krap – those are some big animals. I opted to walk.
“Don’t stand up straight as you go up the hill,” Honored Guide told me, “bend at the waist and the walk will be easier.” It was good advice, that hike up the mountain was brutal.
Little did I know – that was the easy part of the experience….. Check out the stair climb. People were literally hanging onto the walls.
This is the below view of Phnom Bakheng. It has seven levels, representing the seven Hindu heavens, literally a hand over hand climb sans handrails.
It was a zoo.
The view was worth it. Honored Guide mentioned that this had been a Khmer Rouge lookout point.
Sunset was beautiful.
We had major drama climbing down from the summit. First off – it was dark, so the steps were even more fun. A very heavy Australian man fell on the stairs. Honored Guide broke his fall and banged his leg being a hero.
Oh the excitement! Other Guides converged upon Honored Guide and the story of his bravery spread like wildfire. By the time we got down the hill all the guides knew. He was mobbed, telling the story over and over.
I watched and waited. Pretty soon the Australian and his wife came limping down the hill. I checked to make sure they were ok and told them it was my guide that had blocked his fall. Did they want to meet him? Yes they did.
Handshakes, thanks and praise all around, and then the wife insisted on giving Honored Guide some cash. He limped back to the car with a huge smile on his face. Trusted driver was treated to a full re-enactment.
“Do people fall down the stairs a lot?” I asked Honored Guide.
“Oh Yes!” He enthused, “All the time. Lots of fatalities.”