In February this year, we visited the Angkor complex near Siem Reap , Cambodia. A highlight of any visit is to climb the three levels of Angkor Wat, finally arriving above the third level at the central tower (the Bakan Sanctuary) topped by a symbolic lotus bud. The original stone steps to the top are steep and disintegrating. A wooden staircase with metal handrails is laid on top of the stone steps. While the wooden stairs are safer to climb, they are just as steep.
Because a thunderstorm was brewing during our visit to Angkor Wat, the usual long line to climb the stairs to the very top was short. We waited only a few minutes before two descending visitors brought with them the badges we needed for entry. (There is a quota for the number of visitors who can be in the Bakan Sanctuary at a given time.) Our climb and visit is described at Angkor Wet.
After walking around the Sanctuary, staying out of the rain in the covered outer periphery, we decided to risk the wet staircase down so that other people waiting below could have their turn.
The water-soaked steps were now a slick dark brown. The railings that were so shiny silver on the way up were now slippery with rust, but we, like everyone else, clung to them for support. With rusty water streaming from each hand, we descended cautiously. At the bottom, the attendants carefully removed the lanyards with permits from our necks, trying to keep the permits clean. Our guide met us and emptied his drinking water bottle on our hands to remove most of the stain. Only a visit to a nearby restroom with soap and water finally returned our hands to a normal color.