A Long and Winding Climb

Almost There???

A Climb to a View, Genoa, Italy

When you visit Genoa, be prepared to climb a few hills. Vehicles are prohibited in much of the historic center of Genoa. And in many places, it wouldn’t matter. The only way to get to some parts of the city is a long an winding climb. Though, when we got to the top, we did discover that a new elevator/pedestrian tunnel had started operating. We went down the easy way.

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Stairway to Heaven

Stairway to Heaven

Angkor Wat, near Siem Reap, Cambodia, is the largest religious monument ever constructed.  Originally built by  Khmer King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century as a Hindu temple to the god Vishnu, it morphed a Buddhist temple by the 14th century.  The five towers of  central temple represent the peaks of Mt. Meru, the mythical home of both Hindu and Buddhist gods.  A series of galleries, terraces and steep stairways symbolised the effort needed to achieve enlightenment or reach heaven. Three sets of stairs on each side, one in the center and two on the corners, give access to the upper terraces and galleries of the center temple.  Often called the “stairway to heaven,”  the steps rise at a 70% grade.

When I visited Angkor Wat in 2006, one of the stairways on the south side had a handrail—the others required free climbing. Since that time, all but one of the staircases have been closed and access to the central tower is limited to 100 visitors a day.  The south set of steps is now covered by a wooden staircase with handrails. Maybe now I would go to the top. I wasn’t drawn to the steep climb when I was there.

 

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Mountain

Sri Pada or Adam’s Peak

Sri Pada or Adam's Peak, Sri Lanka

Sri Pada or Adam’s Peak, Sri Lanka

Buddha’s footprints are said to be atop Sri Pada, Sri Lanka’s sacred mountain. Others contend they are Adam’s footprints. Thousands of pilgrims follow curving paths up the side of Sri Pada to visit the holy site.

DP: Mountain

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Let’s Go Fly a Kite

The Highest Height: Sri Pada (Adam’s Peak)

Sri Pada, or Adam's Peak. Up to the highest height! Up through the atmosphere, Up where the air is clear, Sri Lanka.

Sri Pada, or Adam’s Peak. Up to the highest height! Up through the atmosphere, Up where the air is clear, Sri Lanka.

The Path to the Summit

The Path to the Summit Against the Night Sky

If you have the tenacity and desire to climb approximately 7000 steps, schedule a pilgrimage to Sri Pada, or Adam’s Peak, one of the holiest Buddhist sites in Sri Lanka. At the summit is a human footprint formed in a rock-some say the footprint it was made by Buddha, some say by Adam.

Two of my traveling companions were prepared for the climb, both physically and mentally. What they weren’t prepared for was the overwhelming mass of Sri Lankan pilgrims who converged on Sri Pada to take advantage of a two day holiday period the full moon, or Poya (a monthly Buddhist holy day and public holiday), and a national holiday (Sri Lankan Independence Day). In addition, the months of December, January, and February are Buddhist holy months at Sri Pada, and pilgrims arrive by the bus load. The popularity of those months is also due to the drier weather in the central highlands during that period.

A true sea of humanity pulsed up and down the path to the top. The path, lit by lights that curved up the side of the mountain, was traced against the black sky and left those of us below amazed. Marta and Sharon, accompanied by a local guide, started from the guesthouse at 12:30 am, hoping to make it to the top for sunrise. Unfortunately, the peak was enveloped in a cloud early in the morning and visibility was minimal. Well prepared for the climb, with fleece jackets and walking sticks, they were surrounded by Sri Lankans with bare feet or only wearing flip-flops, women carrying their babies up the mountain, the elderly struggling with the steps, and a press of people so great that it induced claustrophobia in some. For most Sri Lankan Buddhist, though, it was a once in a life time pilgrimage for most and it was a serious commitment. Some took one or two days to make the climb, resting along the way.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Let’s Go Fly a Kite

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