I promised you sexy rocks and, boy, did I deliver?! This is Sigiriya Lion Rock and it’s one of only 3 in the world of it’s kind, the others being Ayers Rock and … I forget. Anyway, I didn’t believe that bit of the spiel that the guide gave (a guy called Reginald who was the spit of Muhammad Ali but not in a good way) so we can forget that.
One thing I did do though was a tiny bit of research on TINTERNET before we left and I wish I hadn’t. I chanced upon a blog full of useful information for visiting Sigiriya with families (curse those useful bloggers) and the lady blogger said there were sheer drops and rickety stairs and wasps’ nests and you had to be silent or the wasps attacked en masse and someone was hospitalised and there were zombies and the lakes at the bottom were shark infested and … well not the last two but you get the picture. This was going to be TERROR ROCK, HELL MOUNTAIN, AREYOUFRICKINMENTAL HILL. So I got up that morning (at 5.45am – yes, Terror Rock preceded by Nightmare Alarm Call) feeling as keen to visit Sigiriya as a male cat is to visit that nice vet with the pliers.
For those that give a s**t, here’s some background. According to the ancient Sri Lankan chronicle the Culavamsa, this site was selected by King Kasyapa (477 – 495 CE) for his new capital. He built his palace on the top of this rock and decorated its sides with colourful frescoes. On a small plateau about halfway up the side of this rock he built a gateway in the form of an enormous lion. The name of this place is derived from this structure —Sīhāgiri, the Lion Rock. The capital and the royal palace was abandoned after the king’s death. It was used as a Buddhist monastery until the 14th century. And IN NO WAY whatsoever did I cut and paste this from Wikipedia.
Now up until said colourful frescos, it was all going surprisingly well. The boys walked (in fact ran) up the first few hundred steps and then pretty much limped – but enthusiastically – up the next few hundred. Then we get to the rickety spiral metal staircase of blogging legend. It’s seemingly held to the rock with a couple of metal kebab skewers. I get up to the cave with the frescoes and I’m seriously vertiginous (if that’s the word) in that I want to vomit and curl up in the foetal position, simultaneously. Reginald wangs on about when they were painted and how amazing they are generally and all I can think is MAKE THIS CULTURAL EXPOSITION COME TO IT’S NATURAL END.
After that we gained a sure foothold and followed the Capricorn goat* to the half-way point, wherein everyone was pointing at the wasps’ nests and trying to ignore the large (and entirely dilapidated and unmanned) First Aid tent. So it seems Madame Doom on tinternet wasn’t wrong. But it’s fine. As long as everyone stays silent. Cue: John John flip-out extraordinaire. It’s not that he’s tired. Oh no. It’s that he wants to walk the rest of the way on his own, despite the remaining 600 steps being narrow, steep and hanging off the cliff face like really manky wire braces on some seriously unhygienic teeth. I see a few wasps making their morning sorties of the cliff face. So this is how it ends. So be it.
But all was well when the golden boy decides to quit malling and get in the bleeding baby carrier and Adam mounts the rest of the rock with him a’back. Like a boss. Here’s Ed on top:
He’s sort of squinting and looking a bit nervous because it’s HOT and HIGH AS HELL. Give him a break. Anyway, it’s proof that we got up there. Well, that one of us did. You’ll have to take the rest of it on faith.
And as for the wasps? Methinks the people who the blogger described as ‘Chinese’ selling rubber anti-wasp suits to tourists climbing the rock have either given up because the wasps just weren’t being waspish enough, or the wasps banded together in a ferocious squadron of zzzzip and stung them clean off the mountain. Either way, they’ve had their fun for this year. Not a murmur was heard, wasp-wise. Hurray to that and last one down gets the beers in.