It’s almost noon. Do you know where your Dr. Bronner’s hand sanitizer is? Yesterday, mine accompanied me to the top of Sri Lankan landmark Sigiriya, the Lion Rock, atop which sits the ruins of a magnificent palace.
There’s a fascinating story about this place with an extremely abrupt ending. Around 473 AD Prince Kassapa, jealous of his half-brother Moggallana’s claim on the throne, walled his dad the king up alive and then chased his half-bro out of the country. Fearing Moggallana’s inevitable return, he moved his royal headquarters to the unassailable top of the 1000+ foot Sigiriya Rock. In just 7 years, the palace up there was built and I can only imagine the talk around the water cooler by the workers that had to haul the bricks up there piece by piece. And I got jittery using the steel steps with sturdy railings carrying nothing. Anyhow, in only 7 years they built this stunning palace that even included an enormous water tank whose means of filling is still under debate. The king and his entourage are all installed up there, when Moggallana returns with an army of mercenaries.
Here’s where the story takes an unexpected left turn. It seems to me, now I’m no military tactician, but it seems to me that the whole idea of setting up shop on top of a 1000 foot rock is so that when the enemy comes, they can’t get you. However, if you don’t stay on top of the rock, the rock can’t protect you. Nonetheless, when big bro returned with his army, little bro K went down the rock and rode out in front to meet the oncoming troops on an elephant. Due to some serious miscommunication, K’s troop’s thought he was retreating, and they themselves scurried back up the rock, leaving K to face his bro’s attack alone. K promptly fell on his sword and died.
As I said it ended abruptly. And because on top of a huge rock is a fairly inconvenient place from which to rule a kingdom, Moggalana moved the capital back to the ancient city of Anuradhapura. So all that work was only royally useful for about 15 years, but it left behind what are now astoundingly splendid ruins.
This is my favorite sign on Sigiriya. It’s at the top. It seems like it would have been much more useful at the bottom. Once you’re at the top, there’s no help for the fact that you have to go down. And it doesn’t offer any advice – “hold the handrail”, “go slow”, “don’t look down”.
Back to the hand sanitizer.
This has been a great companion in all my traipsing around Sri Lanka. Because of it, I’ve been able to enjoy a mango from a roadside stand with nary a washroom in sight. I’ve been able to have a snack atop Sigiriya after clinging to the steel railings all the way up, right behind all 20 million people ahead of me that day. (There aren’t sinks up there, either.) And on the airplane, I was able to settle my tummy with a little bite to eat while we were jouncing along over the Atlantic making the bathroom inaccessible.
Other ways the hand san has come in handy:
- A quick clean of my camera lens – I sprayed the edge of my shirt and wiped the lens. (I probably just made some true photographers faint.)
- Spraying a public toilet seat that looked, um, well used.
- Quick relief from a mosquito bite before the itching set in too badly. (Quick Plug – I didn’t get many bites, thanks to my All Terrain Herbal bug repellent. Good stuff!)
Best of all, since the sanitizer comes in a 3 oz. bottle, you can take it through security with your carry-on, no problem.
So when your deciding what to take and what to leave behind, the hand san has an excellent size:functionality ratio. In addition to the germ killing on hands, it has all the other little uses I’ve mentioned before that help reduce the number of miscellaneous products you’ll need to pack.