Pre Rup

Built by Rajendravarman II in 961, this is one of the oldest temples in the region (much older than Angkor Wat). According to one of the locals named Nian, who I found perched up top of the highest of Pre Rup's turrets, the temple is seven kilometers away from Angkor Wat. (I could see the one of Angkor's spires poking out from the top of the tree line after he pointed it out.) Nian explained that the stones for Pre Rup came from Kuulain Mountain (Lychee Mountain), some 56 kilometers off. They were hauled to the site by elephant. I asked Nian why so many of temples carvings were broken. It seems that the Khmers in 961 still used stucco instead of sturdier sandstone for this work at that time. Nian asked if I understood the word stucco. "It's my language," I told him. (It's the dreadful pokey stuff that people in the 1970s used to plaster their ceilings.) The spires in the picture were partly reconstructed by an Italian arm of UNESCO five years ago.

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