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Spinning the myth of a 16th-century king as elections loom in Cambodia

A close-up of a statue of the 16th-century King Sdech Kan at the site of the former capital in Tboung Khmum province (Photo by Sebastian Strangio)

The former capital of the 16th century Cambodian King Sdech Kan is a sleepy place, filled with birdsong and that particular air of shabby mysticism that seems to surround pagodas in rural parts of Cambodia. Nothing much is left of the old city, known as Srolop Prey Nokor, except checkerboards of parched rice paddies and the remains of the broad moat and earthworks that once surrounded the capital. Inside, the only real attraction is a small pagoda where a statue of Sdech Kan rises in front of a newly built temple compound enclosing two crumbling pre-Angkorian ruins.

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