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‘Scary stairs’ story rebutted

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Tourists at Angkor Wat in Siem Reap province climb and descend temple stairs in June. Hong Menea

‘Scary stairs’ story rebutted

The Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap (APSARA) – the semi-private enterprise that oversees and collects ticket fees for the Angkor temple complex – has issued a four-page rebuttal to a CNN article that included a 77-word description of Angkor’s south steps in an article listing “The world’s scariest stairs”.

The article, published online, is a light-hearted list of 13 tourist sites around the world with particularly steep, long or otherwise heart-quickening stairways with thrills, the article says, that “can leave just as much of an impact on your memory as the places they lead you”.

APSARA, however, took issue with possible “confusion” arising from the article, and insisted that Angkor’s historic stone south steps had been closed indefinitely and that a wooden staircase had been built over them to ease the climb.

In its description of Angkor’s south stairs, the CNN article tells readers “there’s no shame in bowing down on your hands and knees or pulling yourself up with the provided ropes to scale the nearly 70 percent inclined stairs of Angkor Wat’s uppermost temples”.

“Guides claim the steps were made to be so steep to remind people that heaven was hard to reach – though you might make the same argument about Earth as you try not to tumble on the way down,” it adds.

But according to APSARA, a photo of the stairs used in an accompanying slideshow was outdated, as it did not depict the new 47-step, 1.2-metre-wide wooden staircase – complete with railings – that was installed five years ago.

“The news of CNN on Angkor Wat’s stairs is not true, and it is not checked for balance. Local and international visitors who visit Cambodia could be a witness” to the new stairs’ safety, the rebuttal reads.

APSARA spokesperson Chau Sun Kerya would not say that the body was calling for the article’s removal, but that the clarification was just to avoid visitors being confused.

“So far, there are no tourists injured. The picture that CNN used is more than five years old,” she said. “Now all tourists and guides are happy with our new stairs, with their safety and ease, and we have our guards tell and look after the tourists to be careful.”

A request for comment to CNN had not been returned as of press time.

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