When I visited Siem Rreap in 1991 it was a sleepy backwater town, recovering from decades of brutal war. The single hotel was a former French outpost pockmarked with bullets, the waiters in the newly opened "foreigner restaurant" limped terribly as they were unaccustomed to wearing shoes, and the only nightlife to be had was at a bar called "The Minefield", decorated with defused mines, run by a mercenary from New Zealand (who offered his "wife" to the highest bidder), and inhabited by a rather large python named Gorbachev.
Today all this has changed. Siem Reap, or rather the nearby ruins of Angkor Wat are on the global must-see tourist list. The population of the city has increased 20 fold and is circled by 5 star hotels filled with foreigners on package tours. Thai photographer Miti Ruangkritya's project On the Edge views the city at a distance from the vantage point of someone approaching (or perhaps momentarily escaping) the city... The effect is a sort of a topsy turvy South East Asian version Tati's film "Playtime", a film about Paris, but in which Paris is only seen in a distant reflection. The pictures are both familiar and foreign, and loaded with a dusty melancholy of seeing the underbelly of an encroaching world.
Text by Raul Gutierrez