Monday, June 2, 2008

Stairway to Banan

A dog awaits my beginning of the steep climb to Phnom Banan
Phnom Banan has seen some changes since my first visit there in 1999. As well as the renovated welcome platform festooned with nagas, the steep 150 metre laterite stairway to the top of the hill - 358 steps in all - has also been completely overhauled and the route to the top is dotted here and there with seated lions recovered from the surrounding forest. It's still a long and hot climb - though youngsters will busy themselves by fanning you - and the steps these days are in excellent condition underfoot. Awaiting you at the top are five laterite and sandstone built towers, dating from the 11th and 13th centuries according to inscriptions found at the site. I recall a large artillery gun inside the temple back in 1999, a reminder that the area had been on the frontline of the civil war for many years. It's long since disappeared. The admission fee for foreigners at Phnom Banan is $2, for locals it's free.
A seated lion oversees the arrival of visitors at Phnom Banan
The summit of Phnom Banan is in sight - soon time for a rest!
This is Tola, my personal guide at Phnom Banan
One the recovered lions at Phnom Banan, the stairway is dotted with some good lion examples


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