Blog by Vietnam based documentary Photographer Christian Berg

Few cities change as fast as Saigon does. Leave for a few months and where once was one of your favorite cafes in an old charming colonial building now a new modernist highrise fantasy is looming over downtown Ho Chi Minh City. Of course this is the course (and maybe the curse) of modernity, but here in Saigon it just seems to strike stronger than in other places. Maybe my European roots make me feel sad when I see the old witnesses of history, such as the Eden building being mown down like weeds on a golf course. At least we had our fare share of sins that we now regret. Here in Vietnam the attachment to the past does not seem strong. And why not? Colonial architecture probably only reminds of years of suppression. But will future generation see it the same way? As a visitor here this is probably not my question to answer.

However I had the luck to visit the famous Eden building in Downtown Saigon just a few weeks before it was finally torn down. The chance to witness a historic place that is now gone forever. Not only was it place to the well known cafe Givral, but also did it host the office of the Associated Press during the American Vietnam war. Many pulitzer prices passed this ancient halls before they changed the public perception of this war forever.

Here a few images in reminiscence of one of the underestimated buildings of the younger past:

Saigon's District 1 at dusk. Lots of new high rise buildings appear every year. Vietnam 2010

A view of Eden building and Vincom Towers in downtown Saigon, Vietnam 2010

The "Eden" sign of the building with the same name in front of the new built Vincom Towers in Saigon, 2010

Some of the last inhabitants of Saigon’s famous Eden building

The inhabitants used to have lots of greenery inside Saigon's Eden Building, Vietnam 2010

This young artist was one of the last inhabitants of Saigon's Eden Building

The door of the former AP office in Saigon's Eden Building 2010

Saigon, Eden Building and Dong Khoi, Vietnam 2010

The rest of Saigon's Eden Building, Vietnam 2011

Where once the Eden Building stood is now a huge construction side, Saigon, Vietnam, 2011

for further reading there was this story in The Independent a few weeks ago…

categories: History, Journalism, Vietnam

Last month around 50 former journalists who covered the Vietnam War gathered at the evening of April 29th 2010 at the Caravelle Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, to celebrate the “old hacks” reunion, one day before the 35th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War. Some of those “Old Hacks” are real giants of Journalism, such as Nick Ut who took the famous image of the young girl in a Napalm attack:

Nick Ut’s Pulitzer price image

Other participants where for example Michael Morrow who was one of the founders of Dispatch News Service, the agency that broke the story on the My Lai Massacre or famous war photographer Time Page who is said to be the inspiration for Dennis Hopper’s role in Apocalypse Now. Another interesting person was Al Rockoff a freelance Photojournalist who witnessed the fall of Phnom Penh to the Khmer Rouge in 1975 and who was portrayed by John Malcovich in the movie The Killing Fields. And of course Peter Arnett who won a Pulitzer Price for his coverage of the Vietnam War in 1966 and later became the face of the Gulf War (it is interesting by the way to note that Arnett now teaches Journalism in China). Obviously an exciting evening at the Caravelle Hotel!

I had the chance to join this event and take a couple of shots:

oldhacks – Images by Christian Berg

Here an article that my friend Thomas Maresca wrote about the Reunion for the Associated Press.