The stairs didn’t appear to be steep until I was halfway up them, carefully maneuvering my size 9 sandals on the narrow slanted stone. I stopped. Bad move. I looked down and realized how far up I had come. I looked up and realized how far I still had to go. Was it really important to see Angkor Wat from the highest point of the temple? I stood there and contemplated. I watched my colleagues continue up. Having never experienced a fear of heights before, this was a new sensation. I imagined slipping on the narrow steps, tumbling down, my skirt billowing as my legs tangled. One of my colleagues sure-footedly stepped past me. “Come on, Lor. You’re almost at the top. There are steps with a rail on the other side that you can go down.”
I persevered another 20 frighteningly narrow steps. I made it to the top. My head reeled as I looked down at what I had just come up. I then looked out over the splendor of Angkor Wat. Courtyards and hallways and green expanses, dotted by lone palms. Serenity washed over me. I was at the top of the temple that is still resplendent after hundreds of years of neglect, wars, and decay.