If you visit Sigiriya, you'll take something away that will stay with you for the rest of your life. Arriving from the south at night through a storm of locusts seemed an omen that this visit was going to be something special. And then Sigiriya Rock towers over you.

It was a dream-filled night, that night before climbing the rock. I dreamed of lush gardens laid out in all directions around the rock, with lakes and greenery - an oasis in a dry zone. How many times have the maidens' paintings on the ascent been re-painted? Who knows? Their power is as great as when they were first painted. On the way up, you'll pass a cave with a hollow in the rock. A monk would fill the hollow with water and stay there, meditating, until all the water had evaporated.

At last, the summit. Jungle all around. Is it the sun, or can I see the faint outline of water gardens stretching in all directions? (Tip: Buy a box with a secret opening.)