Thursday, 4 January 2018

Christian Berg | The Old Ones

Photo © Christian Berg | All Rights Reserved
Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) previously known as Saigon, has a population of about 8.5 million people, making it the most populous metropolitan area in Vietnam. The city's population is expected to grow to 13.9 million by 2025. Its French-influenced buildings earned it the nickname of “the Pearl of the Orient”, especially because of its tree-lined boulevards flanked by grand hotels with wide verandas.

Saigon's old buildings also formed the backdrop for “The Quiet American,” the Graham Greene novel set during Vietnam’s war for independence from France in the early 1950s, and for indelible images of the Vietnam War. The city
 was full old apartment buildings; built in the 1950s or 1960s while others dating back to French colonial times. 

As an aside: Although I've been to Vietnam many times, I've only been to Saigon once back in 2004, and I distinctly recall the Rex Hotel; the old and famed hotel where the United States military would hold its delusional briefings during the American (or Vietnam) war, and its roof top bar (where I had an excellent seafood meal), and which was the favorite watering hole for journalists, spies and military people.

These old buildings (as those in Hanoi and elsewhere in many Asian cities) have been, and still are, inhabited by generations of families. Some of the buildings contain living quarters, small shops, markets, and restaurants. However, more and more of these structures are being demolished due to safety reasons and to make way for new (and expensive) real estate projects. There has been much loss in Saigon's urban heritage which rips the city's social and historical fabric.

Christian Berg's The Old Ones is a gallery of photographs made of some of Saigon's heritage buildings. 

Christian is a Ho Chi Minh City based documentary photographer, available for freelance work in Vietnam and Southeast Asia. He holds a degree in Southeast Asian studies, and is fluent in Vietnamese.is work was published in The New York Times, The Financial Times, Elle, Forbes, National Geographic Traveler, The Telegraph, DKSH, Atlas Industries, Strategic Marine, Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, Goethe Institute, Medicins du Monde and others.