As a rule, people who know unforgivably little about BDSM may believe that this process is something abnormal, associated with pain, humiliation and other perversions. But all these stereotypes are justified by ignorance. BDSM is a whole subculture, the basis of which is the mutual exchange of power in order to achieve sexual pleasure for both partners.
Climbing Adam’s Peak
‘You’d be mad not to do it once, but mad to do it more than once.
When I tell Amiter, our guide he laughs. ‘In Sri Lanka we say, if you haven’t climbed Sri Pada then you are a fool. If you’ve climbed it more than once you’re a bloody fool,’ he says with a broad grin.
Despite a reasonable level of fitness I feel slightly nervous about the prospect, particularly since we are holed up in a nearby guest house with the rain sheeting down, ominous rumbles of thunder and flashes of lightning which light up the whole sky.
At the appointed hour of 1am a guide wakes the group I am travelling with to find that as Amiter had promised, the rain has stopped. Walking through the darkness towards the holy monument by the light of the full moon feels like the start of a real adventure.
There are 5,200 steps to the temple at the top of the rock, our guide cheerfully informs us, adding helpfully that it is 10,400 if you count coming back down. For the first few km the pathway leading to Adam’s Peak is easy. The last three kilometres is where it starts to get harder and steeper by the minute. Soon the excited chatter of the group is replaced by puffing and wheezing, and we have to stop to catch our breath every half hour or so. A bobbing line of lights appears like fireflies below us – other pilgrims are following us and it spurs us on to the top.
We are the first to arrive at 5am, three hours after leaving, knowing that it is an hour until the gates to the temple are unlocked. As I dream of a hot drink to warm myself, our guide appears from nowhere with a steaming tray of mugs of hot, sweet Ceylon tea, which feels like the best cuppa I’ve ever had.
The pilgrims atop the rock are flapping arms and stamping feet to stay warm as the sun starts to burst slowly through the clouds to gasps all around and the clicking of camera shutters. The light up here has a quality I’ve not experienced anywhere else, gradually bathing us in a warm glow as we remove our shoes ready to enter the temple. The full moon means it is a public holiday and we are lucky to be allowed into the Buddha’s footprint, kneeling to kiss the ‘footprint’ three times.
I ring the bell once to indicate the number of times I’ve visited the holy site, making a silent promise to myself that at some point I’ll be able to ring the bell twice…
After half an hour wandering round marvelling at the atmosphere and the light and the panoramic view it is time to begin our descent. Three of us spontaneously stand in a line and do some sun salutations. As I stand at the top of the steps ready to walk down I notice I have a lump in my throat. I’m buzzing from the whole experience and despite wobbly legs enjoy every moment on the way down, noticing the waterfalls and different types of trees and the wildlife all around. ‘It feels like we’re walking into Shangri La,’ says one of the group and I have to agree with him. The sun is shining and life feels good. It has been one of the many highlights of travelling to Sri Lanka and I hope I will return one day. If I do I will certainly climb Sri Pada again – even if it makes me a bloody fool.