The front entrance to the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh shortly after dawn.
Downtown Saigon's Eden Building where AP, NBC, VOA and others once had their bureaus during the war is being demolished.
Side view of Eden Building fronting the park where the "buggery statue" once stood.
The view of the Eden Building from the middle of Lam Son Square with Givral Cafe on the corner. Not only the Eden Building but the entire block, including older building just to the right, is coming down. A modern building of similar height will replace it.
Givral's in mid-April 2010 as the Eden Building was being demolished. As Saigon geared up for the anniversary of its "liberation" on 30 April 1975, colourful hoardings were put up to cover what had become a bit of eye-sore.
The once-familiar view from Givral's looking towards the Continental Hotel.
Another view of Givral's interior.
View of the French-era Opera House which served as South Vietnam's National Assembly during the war. Today, the totally refurbished building is once again used for musical concerts.
Street view looking into Givral's with a mural of what the street looked like back in French colonial days.
Walking up ex-Tu Do Street, now Dong Khoi, to the arcade that once led into the Eden Cinema. The entire block is under demolition and will be replaced with a modern building of similar height.
Security guards outside an entrance into the former Eden Passage and Cinema. Here, one is clearly more intent on texting on his mobile.
Saigon's famous Hotel Continental has been completely refurbished in recent years and lost much of its former charm. The open-air terrace - dubbed the Continental Shelf during the Vietnam War - was enclosed some years ago and is home to a fairly-decent air-conditioned Italian restaurant. The sidewalk tables are new.
Walking down Le Thanh Ton Street towards Saigon's refurbished Town Hall, or Hotel de Ville during French Colonial times. The government recognises the importance of its colonial architectural heritage.
The new wing of the Rex Hotel in downtown Saigon was once a garage. Fully-grown palm trees were brought in for decoration. The old movie theatre is now a grand entrance to upstairs function rooms. Downtown Saigon has never looked better.
The new face of Saigon is reflected in this high-rise office building along Le Loi Blvd leading from the Opera House down to the Cho Ben Thanh or Cental Market.
Located up Dong Khoi, formerly Tu Do Street, behind the Continental Hotel is the brand-new high-rise Vincom Center.
Known as the Gia Long Palace during the war and residence of President Ngo Dinh Diem when he was overthrown in a coup in November 1963, this old colonial structure is now the Museum of Ho Chi Minh City.
The old palace is also a popular venue for just-married couples looking for photo props, including this old Citroen.
The French-era Law Courts in Saigon near the former presidential palace.
The entrance to a small temple on the edge of Van Hoa Park behind the former presidential palace is dominated by a statue of Quan Am, the female Boddhisatva, who is very popular in southern Vietnam.
The Earth Goddess, or Dia Mau, is also very popular and always wears a black dress.
Goddesses associated with the God Mother, or Lieu Hanh, also feature at this small temple that is easy to miss but a total joy to visit.
After a couple days in Saigon, I caught the 6 a.m. Sapaco Tourist bus to Phnom Penh for our reunion of so-called Old Hacks who covered the war in Vietnam and Cambodia in the 1960's and 1970's. The journey costs only $15 and normally takes about six hours, including border formalities at the Vietnam-Cambodia border nw of Saigon.
The bus stops at Moc Bai on the Vietnamese side of the border for exit processing by immigration. In the background, the Cambodian border crossing point at Bavet can clearly be seen.
Now on the Cambodian side after passing through the ornate border crossing post. From here, a dozen or so casinos stretch along the first couple kilometres into Cambodia, a popular destination for Vietnamese gamblers who have free entry into the country. (Gambling addiction has become a serious social problem in Vietnam.)
We cross the Mekong River at Neak Luong, roughly one hour from the border. The ferries were brightly decorated for the Cambodian New Year but the huge traffic jam I'd anticipated didn't take place until the next day.
Ferry crossings in Vietnam and Cambodia always bring a sense of excitement and adventure.
Looking down the Mekong River from Neak Luong, dark clouds hover but deliver little rain at the end of another torrid dry season in April 2010.
Coming up to the Phnom Penh side of the ferry crossing at Neak Luong. The Cambodian capital is still a good hour or so away.
Arriving in Phnom Penh, my friend Chhang Song - co-organiser of our reunion - takes me to lunch at the Titanic Restaurant on the banks of the Tonle Sap River. A suburb has sprung up on the far shore since the war when the area was used for farming. The boat in the foreground makes the run down the Bassac River to Chau Doc just inside Vietnam.
The waters of the Tonle Sap were looking decidedly scungy at the end of the dry season. In the background, the boat heads downriver to Chau Doc in Vietnam, an $18 trip.
Out for an early morning walk from my Phnom Penh Hotel, this is the Independence Monument.
In the other direction, the wide parkland - flanked by a road on each side - leads down to the Four Arms where the Mekong River divides into the Bassac and Tonle Sap Rivers. The building is the distance is Nagaworld, a huge casino complex. (See further pictures ahead.)
Another view of the Independence Monument in Phnom Penh.
On the next morning's walk, a colourful billboard for a Cambodian mobile phone company can't help getting my attention.
And a vigorous stroll down past the Independence Monument.
Sunrise over Phnom Penh's Independence Monument.
And then closer to the river where a monument to a famous monk dominates a round-about with the Nagaworld further to the right.
A close-up of the monument.
Further way now looking back towards the Independence Monument and the growing skyline of Phnom Penh. My back is to the river.
The sign points to a garden given by Cambodia's long-time ruler, Prime Minister Hun Sen, and right outside Nagaworld, a huge casino and hotel complex overlooking the Four Arms where the Mekong meets the Bassac and Tonle Sap Rivers.
A closer shot of the Nagaworld casino complex with a classy hotel to the left. Not really my style to enter such places but kinda' regret I didn't pop in for a look.
A Humvee parked outside Phnom Penh's Nagaworld casino & hotel complex.
The Nagaworld casino & hotel complex in Phnom Penh.
Sunrise over the Four Arms in Phnom Penh where the Mekong River splits into the Tonle Sap and Bassac Rivers. Vehicular ferries head to settlements on the eastern shore.
And another sunrise shot over Phnom Penh's Four Arms.
During the Cambodia War 1970-75, the half-built Cambodiana Hotel overlooking Phnom Penh's Four Arms became a huge refugee camp. Today, the hotel is one of the Cambodian capital's principal 5-star hotels.
Its tiled roof glowing brilliantly in the rising sun, this classical Cambodian-style building houses the head of the country's Buddhist establishment.
Walking up along Sisowath Quay along the banks of the Tonle Sap River iwth the flagpoles of many nations. This is a popular spot for early morning exercisers in Phnom Penh.
Looking across the Tonle Sap to a new suburb that's sprung up since the war. The area was previously farmland.
Coming up to the flag-tower on Sisowath Quay.
And across the parklands from the riverside pavillion is the Royal Palace.
Another view of the Royal Palace framed by a riverside pavillion. At this time of day shortly after dawn, the park is full of exercising city dwellers.
Looking back down the Tonle Sap from the boat landing opposite the entrance Royal Palace. The Mekong River lies straight ahead while the Bassac flows off to the right, both into Vietnam's Mekong Delta.
Another view from further up Sisowath Quay.
Phnom Penh's Royal Palace.
The National Museum of Cambodia lies just northwest of the Royal Palace and contains many treasures from the country's long history.
American actor George Hamilton was a childhood friend of Sean Flynn, son of Errol and war photographer/cameraman, who disappeared in eastern Cambodia in April 1970. George attended the Phnom Penh & Saigon reunions to meet Sean's one-time colleagues and also pay respects. We hit it off like long-lost brothers. Here, we are at the Cantina, renowned for its margaritas.
Another shot with George Hamilton as Cantina's owner Hurley, who'd just re-opened after the Cambodian New Year, keeps an eye on proceedings.
The Hotel Le Royal in Phnom Penh was where most correspondents stayed during the Cambodia War 1970-75 and were the official hosts for the Old Hacks Reunion from 20-23 April 2010. Now part of the Singapore-based Raffles Group, the hotel is a class-act and definitely five-stars.
The main entrance to Le Royal, now totally refurbished, but with glimpses still of its former self. However, nothing will change this facade.
Guests are received in keeping with its name at Phnom Penh's Le Royal Hotel, including a red carpet.
One of the two pools at today's Le Royal in Phnom Penh. The pool in the foreground is in the same location as the earlier one but La Cyrene Restaurant, once to the right, is no longer here and replaced by another three-storey accommodation wing.
This pool at Le Royal is in the same location as in the old days but is much larger -- and cleaner. The facade of the main building behind remains the same.
Carl Robinson and Perry Deane Young meet up for the first time in decades. Although with rival news agencies, Carl with AP and Perry with UPI, they were good friends and were part of the Tu Do Street Gang of Tim Page, Sean Flynn & Co. PDY later wrote "Two of the Missing" on the disappearance of Sean and Dana Stone in eastern Cambodia in April 1970 in which I contributed a chapter. Here we'd just met up outside the restaurant at Le Royal and as you'll see in further pix the group just grew & grew. (Photo from pdy.)
And co-organiser of the Phnom Penh Reunion, one-time Cambodian Army spokesman Chhang Song soon joined us. (Photo from pdy.)
Lunch at Le Royal of early arrivals for the Phnom Penh Reunion. Here, Tim Page chats with Mike Morrow and Tom Cheatham. Just to his left is Madeleine Thien, a young and pleasant Canadian novelist, who joined our group for the duration. In background, are (LtoR) Jon Swain, George Hamilton and Marianne (Mau) Harris who is with Tim.
From the same pre-reunion lunch, LtoR, Mike Morrow, Tom Cheatham, Dan Southerland and Perry Deane Young.
Another view from the other end of the table with (LtoR) Mike Morrow, Tom Cheatham, Dan Southerland and Perry Deane Young.
At the other end of the table (LtoR) are George Hamilton, Mau Harris and Johnie Webb of JPAC who flew down from HQ's in Honolulu to join the reunion. To right is Jon Swain.
Carl Robinson chats with Johnie E. Webb of JPAC in Hawaii, the unit in charge of accounting for Americans missing in action (MIA), and a special guest at the Phnom Penh Reunion, especially in the wake of the claimed discovery of Sean Flynn only weeks before by a couple Australian adventurers. Mike Morrow is to right. (photo from pdy.)
Co-organiser Chhang Song and Jon Swain at Le Royal pre-reunion lunch.
Later on, Perry Deane Young meets up with George Hamilton, a childhood friend of Sean Flynn who was attending the reunion to meet his old colleagues and pay homage to his memory. (Photo from pdy.)
An ex-UPI crowd of Tom Cheatham, Dan Southerland, Tim Page and Perry Deane Young during a pre-reunion lunch in Phnom Penh, 20 April 2010.
The Elephant Bar at Le Royal became an impromptu venue for shooting some documentary footage with from lower left, George Hamilton, Tim Page, Martin Stuart-Fox, Steve Northup and Simon Dring. (Photo from Mau Harris.)
Different angle on the same shoot. (Photo from Mau Harris.)
Co-organiser Chhang Song addresses the Phnom Penh Reunion's welcome dinner hosted by the Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith on the evening of 20 April 2010.
Cambodia's Minister of Information was a very strong personal supporter of the reunion -- and the erection of a memorial to those 36 journalistic colleagues killed during the Cambodia War, 1970-75. Here, he welcomes Old Hacks to the reunion at a Phnom Penh rooftop restaurant.
Former Washington Post correspondent Elizabeth "Beth" Becker provides a few words of welcome as the Phnom Penh Reunion 2010 gets underway.
Chhang Song and ex-UPI Sylvana Foa share a laugh at welcome speeches for the reunion.
The dress and hairdo are totally modern -- but the music and dance totally traditional -- at our welcome dinner for the Phnom Penh Old Hacks Reunion 2010.
And it didn't take long before we were dancing along -- here Sylvana Foa and Chhang Song sway to the Cambodian music.
And swirled along more in this non-flash shot.
And the next morning, 21 April, we visited the Royal Palace just as it opened at 0800 and found these attendants practicing up for an up-country ceremony the following week. This is Throne Hall.
Anlother view of the Royal Palace's Throne Hall.
Kim-Dung and our grand-niece Hong outside the stunning Pagoda of the Emerald Buddha, or the Silver Pagoda, inside the Royal Palace. The stupa behind contains the ashes of King Norodom, great grand-father of Norodom Sihanouk.
The Silver Pagoda is in the background of this picture inside a walled compound with a statue of King Norodom on horseback in the foreground. Temperatures were already rising sharply and we were rushing to the nearby National Museum.
Group shot of most of those attending the reunion in Phnom Penh, 20 to 23 April 2010, on the grounds of the Royal Palace. LtoR, top ex-CBS Kurt Volkert; Hong Nguyen; ex-Kyodo Saigon Bureau Chief Atsuo Kaneko; Widow of Kyodo's missing Koki Ishiyama, Yoko; Katherine Holden, daughter of Philip Jones Griffiths and Caroline Logham; Gigi Giannuzzi of Trolley Books who publish PJG's books; Fiona McPherson, friend of Simon Dring, ex-Daily Telegraph (blue shirt); Perry Deane Young (blue cap) and (behind) T. Jeff Williams; ex-UPI Ken Wagner; ex-freelance David Terry; Don Kirk; Carl & Kim-Dung Robinson; Mike Morrow; Jon Swain, Leslie and Jacques Leslie, ex-LA Times; Sylvana Foa; Steve Northup; Beth Becker; Martha Northup; Jim & Milly Pringle; John Giannini and ex-AP Terry Wolkerstorfer.
A lovely stone Buddha sits under a sacred Shala Tree on the grounds of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh. (Photo from KD Robinson.)
Close-up of the sacred Sal or Shala Tree Flower inside the grounds of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh.
Mike Morrow takes a closer look at the Shala Tree Flower on the grounds of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh.
Yes, it was a stinking hot day - with absolutely no breeze - by the time we finished our tour of the National Museum and here we catch our breath and enjoy a cool drink. This is Steve Northup and Sylvana Foa. (Photo from pdy.)
At an informal dinner on our second night, 21 April, ex-AP's Matt Franjola shares a laugh with ex-AP and later CBS correspondent T. Jeff Williams and actor George Hamilton, childhood friend of Sean Flynn who disappeared in eastern Cambodia in April 1970.
Ex-London Daily Telegraph's Simon Dring (left) talks with ex-CBSer Kurt Volkert during an informal dinner on Day 2.
Tim Page and Martin Stuart-Fox at the same dinner.
Sylvana Foa catches up on her e-mails at the internet station in the ornate lobby of Le Royal. Behind, the old wooden staircase heading upstairs is the same as the old days. (photo from pdy.)
And Dan Southerland pokes his head in for a quick chat with Sylvana Foa. (Photo from pdy.)
On Day 3 of the Reunion, we travel down Route 3 for a ceremony at Wat Po, roughly 50 kms southwest of Phnom Penh, where nine colleagues from CBS and NBC were killed on 31 May 1970. We lost 36 local and foreign journalists during the 1970-1975 and an equal number of Cambodian were executed after the Khmer Rouge takeover.
The late dry season countryside along Route 3 brings back many memories of rural Cambodia during the war years.
For most of the distance to Wat Po, which is just off Route 3, the road is in fairly rough condition.
Ex-CBS cameraman Kurt Volkert, who returned with a JPAC team in 1992 to account for six of the missing nine CBS & NBCers at Wat Po, provided a running commentary on our bus trip reconstructing the men's ambush and capture by the Khmer Rouge on 31 May 1970. To right, actor George Hamilton, friend of one of the missing, Sean Flynn, while visible in background are Steve Northup and Perry Deane Young.
Located 54 kms southwest of Phnom Penh, the market town of Prey Neak is where the CBS crew was ambushed by the VC/Khmer Rouge with correspondent George Syvertsen, producer Gerald Miller, cameraman Ramnik Lekhi and driver Yeng Samleng immediately killed. Shortly afterwards, an NBC crew lead by correspondent Welles Hangen arrived on the scene and he, his crew and the surviving CBSers were captured and led further down the road towards Wat Po. They were executed the next day.
Turning off Route 3, we head down a secondary road towards Wat Po passing a mini-convoy of oxen-drawn rubber-tired carts. With some early rains, preparations were underway to plant this year's rice crop. The distance from the highway to Wat Po is approximately three kilometres.
The scene at Wat Po as we arrive for the memorial service. Around 31 May 1970, our six colleagues were executed and then buried along the banks of this muddy creek which was once covered in heavier vegetation and has also changed course over the decades. JPAC accounted for all but one of the missing in 1992. (Photo from pdy.)
The climb down the embankment from the elevated roadway to the memorial service beside the creek was a bit of a challenge. Here, Ralph Hemecker and Tim Page make their gingerly way down the slope. (Photo from pdy.)
Early in the Buddhist service with the monks at the front, men to the left and Old Hacks - plus women and children - facing them. Media coverage was 'huge'. Note roadway behind down which we approached the site. (Photo from pdy.)
While a couple hundred villagers crowded into or around the pavillion, some preferred simply to watch from a distance under the shade of a scrabbly tree. At the end of the dry season, the temperature was pushing 40C with absolutely no breeze. This region 50-60 kms sw of Phnom Penh was once very heavily Khmer Rouge Country. (Photo from pdy.)
A group of Buddhist monks and couple hundred villagers were waiting under a temporary shelter on the actual site where the foreign journalists were executed by the VC/Khmer Rouge nearly 40 years ago. Here, a villager leads other elders in prayers which opened the service, done in some haste as the monks had to return to their nearby temple, or wat, for mid-day services and meditation. We were surprised at the huge number of villagers present for the ceremony.
Other elderly men at Wat Po join in prayer. The monks are to the right.
The Old Hacks sat on colourful Cambodian mats facing the monks with the village women and children sitting or standing behind. Here, Elizabeth "Beth" Becker, Yoko Ishiyama and Milly Pringle are directly in front of the monks beyond a line of gifts of wrapped presents and water bottles. Behind and from left are Jon Swain, Atsuo Kaneko and Jim Pringle. (Photo from Hoang Ngoc.)
Yoko Ishiyama, whose husband Koki disappeared into Khmer Rouge hands in late 1973 and only accounted for in 2009, breaks down in tears after lighting the first sticks of incense for the service at Wat Po. Koki was with the Kyodo news agency.
Ex-AFP and later Sunday Times correspondent Jon Swain hands over a present of incense sticks to one of the monks as part of the Buddhist memorial service at Wat Po on 22 April 2010.
Here, the service is underway with the monks chanting on the left and the congregation in prayer. From bottom right are Carl Robinson, Jacques Leslie, Milly Pringle, Yoko Ishiyama and (barely visible) Beth Becker. Behind her are Sylvana Foa, Jon Swain and Atsuo Kaneko. (Photo from Martha Northup.)
As part of the memorial service at Wat Po on 22 April 2010, Elizabeth "Beth" Becker reads the names of the 36 foreign and local journalists killed during the Cambodia War 1970-75. One of those was the husband of Yoko Ishiyama (c), Koki, who was captured by the Khmer Rouge in 1973 but only accounted for last year. In foreground is Milly Pringle. Yoko was a guest of honour at the reunion.
Beth Becker reads the names of our 36 colleagues killed during the Cambodia War at the Wat Po memorial service. Among those who died was Koki Ishiyama whose widow, Yoko, is to the right. (Photo from Martha Northup.)
Elizabeth Becker reading the names with Sylvana Foa behind and Yoko Ishiyama to right. (Photo from Hoang Ngoc.)
Sylvana Foa in prayer during the Buddhist memorial service for our colleagues at Wat Po on 22 April 2010.
At the memorial service, LtoR, Milly Pringle, Jacques Leslie, Kong Vorn, Carl Robinson, and Leslie Leslie. Also visible in back row are Jim Pringle, Kurt Volkert and Fiona McPherson. (Photo from Hoang Ngoc.)
A general picture during the memorial service showing several Old Hacks including Kong Vorn of Kyodo, centre, who went to Japan after the war. From left, a partially hidden Jacques Leslie, Carl Robinson, Leslie Leslie, Steve Northup with Tom Cheatham behind, Kurt Volkert, Ken Wagner (red shirt), Don Kirk partially hiding T.Jeff Williams while in foreground right are Fiona McPherson and Simon Dring. (Photo from Martha Northup.)
At the end of the service, a view of the villagers -- around 200 -- who also attended the memorial service at Wat Po on 22 April 2010. By tradition, the men sat at the front and to the left of the monks.
A general view of the site where five surviving journalists from CBS and NBC were executed and then buried by the Khmer Route after their capture near Wat Po on 31 May 1970 and where the memorial service was held on 22 April 2010. Local and international media interest was strong and here ex-CBSer Kurt Volkert explains the JPAC operation which recovered all but one of the bodies in 1992 and in which he took part. Behind is the colourful tent erected for the Buddhist service. (Photo from Hoang Ngoc.)
Kurt Volkert is crowded by a media scrum. (Photo from Hoang Ngoc.)
Kurt Volkert explains the JPAC operation and where the bodies of the journalists were found in 1992. He was part of the operation. (Photo from Hoang Ngoc.)
In an uplifted cement culvert on the edge of the dirt road looking down to where our colleagues were executed in 1970 - one of Cambodia's first "killing fields" - a sacred Boddhi Tree was planted as a living memorial. Here, Chhang Song (L) is on overall charge of the operation. T.Jeff Williams, a planter from way back, also makes sure the roots and direction are correct. Tim Page is in the background. This ceremony followed the Buddhist one. (The Buddha himself found enlightenment under such a tree.) (Photo from Hoang Ngoc.)
By the roadside just above the "killing field" at Wat Po where we'd just concluded a Buddhist service, T. Jeff Williams and Chhang Song plant a Boddhi Tree as a memorial to all our colleagues who died in the Cambodia War, 1970-75. We lost 36 and even more of our colleagues were captured and executed by the Khmer Rouge after 1975. (Photo from Martha Northup.)
After Kurt Volker, the media pack quickly made its way up to the roadside the interview Chhang Song as he explained the meaning of the Boddhi Tree. Everyone was then invited to crumple up hard blocks of dirt and place them into the culvert to build up the level of soil. Villagers were paid to care for the tree in the coming months before the rains arrive. In background is Mau Harris, Tim Page's partner.
Chhang Song was very emotional as he planted the Boddhi Tree at Wat Po.
Throughout our four-day reunion in Phnom Penh, we received VIP treatment every time our bus ventured out into the city's now-notorious traffic with a police motorcycle escort. Heading back into the city from our memorial service down at Wat Po, we made great headway to our lunchtime destination.
And zooming into a right turn.
And then a clear run straight down the middle of one of Phnom Penh's main boulevards.
After lunch, we were escorted back to Le Royal and past the city's famous Wat Phnom. Note huge clock on the greenery in front of the stuppa and temple.
At 5pm on the same day, 22 April 2010, we held a second Buddhist service in Phnom Penh, this time to dedicate a memorial in the parkland outside Le Royal Hotel which was where most journalists were based during the Cambodia War, 1970-75. The service began with a handful of Old Hacks - ex-AP's Carl Robinson, ex-WX Post Elizabeth Becker and ex-UPI's Sylvana Foa given a place of honour and showered with fragrant flowers and chanted blessings by a line of monks. To extreme left are Ministry of Information officials Men Saman and Pen Panha with Chhang Song between them. (Photo from Kurt Volkert.)
Receiving a Buddhist blessing on behalf of all the Old Hacks from a different angle. Because of health problems, Chhang Song found it very difficult to move. (Photo from KD Robinson.)
Under-Secretary of Ministry of Information Men Saman and ex-AP's Carl Robinson are provided a blessing of flower pedals and chants on behalf of the Old Hacks at the dedication ceremony begins. (Photo from KD.)
Carl Robinson presents a gift to one of the Buddhist monks during the blessing ceremony for the memorial in the parkland outside Phnom Penh's Le Royal Hotel on 22 April 2010. (Photo from KD.)
Beth Becker says a few words to one of the Buddhist monks at the end of our blessing ceremony for the memorial to the fallen journalists of the Cambodia War, 1970-75. (Photo from KD.)
Cambodia's Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith looked like a 'no-show' but suddenly turned up just in time for the placing of flowers on an altar in front of the memorial. The minister is at centre with Carl Robinson (L) and Chhang Song (R) on either side. Again, many media were in attendance and can be seen in every photo. (Photo from Kurt Volkert.)
Ex-AP's Matt Franjola was a last minute attendee at the Phnom Penh Reunion and here reads the names of all 36 of our colleagues, both local and foreign, who died during the Cambodia War 1970-75 at the day's second memorial dedication, this one in the parkland outside Le Royal.
Chhang Song stands beside Matt Franjola as he reads out the names of our colleagues who died in the Cambodia War 1970-75.
Ex-Kyodo correspondent Kong Vorn reads out the names of the Cambodian journalists who died during the war and after the Khmer Rouge takeover.
Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith also said a few words.
Co-organiser of the Phnom Penh Reunion Carl Robinson says a few words during the ceremony. (KD Robinson.)
After the ceremony, Old Hacks gather arond the memorial (right) and pose for a group shot. (Photo from Mau Harris.)
Group shot beside a mock-up of how the simple memorial will look. (Photo from Mau Harris.)
Old Hacks who attended the Phnom Penh Reunion from 20-23 April 2010 pose beside a mock-up of the simple memorial to our 36 dead colleagues that will be erected in the parkland outside Le Royal Hotel which was the 'media hotel' during the Cambodia War 1970-75.
Identifying participants: LtoR, Sylvana Foa; partially-obscured, widow of Chim Sarath who disappeared April 1972 with Terry Reynolds & Alan Hirons; Dan Cameron Rodill; Glenn MacDonald; Tom Cheatham; Al Rockoff; Don Kirk; Jon Swain; Jacques Leslie; Beth Becker; Yoko Ishiyama (obscured); Carl Robinson; Keo Sithan; Kurt Volkert (obscured); Ken Wagner; Dan Southerland; tim Page; Simon Dring; Kong Vorn; Steve Northup; Perry Deane Young; Jim Pringle; Martin Stuart-Fox; John Giannini; Terry Wolkerstorfer and David Terry.
Another angle on the same group shot. (Photo from KD Robinson.)
One side of the memorial to the journalists who died covering the Cambodia War 1970-75 will be in Cambodian and the other in English, as here. From LtR, ex-Saigon Kyodo Bureau Chief Atsue Kaneko; Yoko, widow of Kyodo's Koki Ishiyama; Kim-Dung and Carl Robinson; Mike Morrow and a slighlty distracted Dan Southerland.
A larger group shot with, from left, David Terry, Jim Pringle, Steve Northup, Perry Deane Young, Martin Stuart-Fox, Yoko Ishiyama, Simon Dring, Kong Vorn, Ken Wagner, Chhang Song, Kea Sithan, Kurt Volkert, Dan Southerland, Jacques Leslie, Carl Robinson, Don Kirk, Jon Swain and Tom Cheatham. (Photo from KD Robinson.)
A close-up of the memorial, here still a dummy. Some funds are available but additional contributions are now needed tocomplete the project.
Kurt Volkert and Mike Morrow beside the mock-up of the memorial. (Photo from KD Robinson.)
A few words of thanks to Cambodia's Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith from co-organiser Carl Robinson (L) as Puy Kea, Kyodo News correspondent and Board Member of the Club of Cambodian Journalists, our hosts, looks on after the ceremony. (Photo from KD Robinson.)
After months of hard work, co-organisers of the Phnom Penh Reunion, Chhang Song and Carl Robinson share a very pleasing moment after the ceremony. Some funds are in-hand but we must now engage in a bit of fund-raising to complete the project. (Photo from KD Robinson.)
Perry Deane Young and Tim Page go way back. (photo from pdy.)
At the end of a busy and very emotional day, we held a panel discussion on the Cambodia War at Phnom Penh's riverfront Himawari Hotel. Unfortunately, our hosts - the Overseas Press Club of Cambodia - and ourselves had not counted on the overwhelming public interest. Between 500 and 600 turned up to the function held in the hotel's vast lobby and chaos reigned. From LtoR; Matt Franjola; Jon Swain; Patrick Falby, moderator & AFP correspondent; Dan Southerland; Sylvana Foa and T. Jeff Williams.
T. Jeff Williams prepares to answer a question during the panel discussion at the Himawari Hotel.
The public discussion on the Cambodia War by a panel of Old Hacks at the Himawari Hotel was indeed an overwhelming occasion. Here, you get a sense of the crowd of 500 to 600 who crowded into the lobby area, a mixture of mostly younger Cambodians, Expats and Tourists. (Photo from Hoang Ngoc.)
A close-up shot shows (LtoR) shows Tim Page, Beth Becker, John Giannini, Ken Wagner, Carl Robinson and Dan Cameron Rodill with Glenn MacDonald partially obscured. Jim & Milly Pringle can be seen behind Tim and Beth. (Photo from Hoang Ngoc.)
Al Rockoff was a wonderful presence at the Phnom Penh and Saigon Reunions, here pictured in b&w at the Wat Po memorial service. Behind him is Ralph Hemecker, a movie/television director and friend of Perry Deane Young's who holds the rights to 'Two of the Missing' and researching a film project, another great presence at both reunions even if often totally ovewhelmed.
The last day of the reunion, 23 April 2010, was devoted to what happened to Cambodia after the Khmer Rouge takeover in 1975, the period of the Killing Fields. In the morning, we visited the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum where an estimated 20,000 were executed by the Pol Pot regime.
Once a high school, Tuol Sleng was turned into a prison after the Khmer Rouge takeover. This was the Gallows (see following picture for explanation.)
Once used for exercise, the structure was turned into a torture device.
Inside one of the cells, our guide explains.
Matt Franjola studies names and faces at Tuol Sleng. All of these men were tortured and later executed.
Room after room of b&w pictures, male and female, overwhelm the visitor. Here, Elisabeth Stuart-Fox chats with Daniel Rodill. Jacques Leslie is immediately behind with Martin Stuart-Fox left and Terry Wolkerstorfer right.
Mike Morrow, David Terry and Don Kirk seeking more details from our excellent and very knowledgeable English-speaking guide at Tuol Sleng.
George Hamilton inside one of the torture rooms at Tuol Sleng. (Photo from Mau Harris.)
One of the few surviving of Tuol Sleng was present and met with several Old Hacks. Here, Cambodian journalists interview the man. (Meanwhile, Cat Herder in atrocious tropical shirt & aussie hat heads off to round up the stragglers for the next destination.) (Photo from pdy.)
The Killing Fields Memorial at Choeung Ek on the outskirts of Phnom Penh where those from Tuol Sleng were brutally executed. Close-up, the memorial is a gruesome collection of human skulls on shelves.
With every rainy season, more human bones come to the surface at Choeung Ek.
Another grave. Here every body was found decapitated.
Clothing of the victims of the Killing Fields also rise to the surface with every rainy season. They are placed in this glass enclosure. Afterwards, we visited the Khmer Rouge Court and a lunch.
Another emotional day ended with another escorted bus trip, this one at the height of Phnom Penh's Rush Hour, to a reception at the residence of US Ambassador Carol Rodley. By this time, we were so grateful for the extra service that Kim-Dung did a 'whip-around' of a dollar each from the Old Hacks which we later presented to police escort, always the same policeman. He was very thankful.
US Ambassador Carol Rodley officially welcomes Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith and his delegation to her residence for the Old Hacks Reception. Chhang Song is to left with Simon Dring, John Giannini and Dan Southerland (partially obscured) behind. (L unk embassy official.)
Co-organiser Chhang Song speaks with US Ambassador Rodley and Carl Robinson looking on.
Co-organiser Carl Robinson's turn to say a few words of thanks.
And he's a bit dangerous when you hand him a microphone!
Kim-Dung Robinson and US Ambassador Carol Rodley at the official reception for the Old Hacks at the end of our Phnom Penh Reunion 20 to 23 April 2010.
A wonderful atmosphere. From left, Carl Robinson, Simon Dring, Fiona McPherson, Martha Northup and Hong Nguyen.
Thanking Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith for his hospitality and assistance during the Old Hacks Reunion in Phnom Penh 20 to 23 April 2010. He was asking how soon we'd all return. Al Rockoff records the moment.
Among those attending was the Australian Ambassador Margaret Adamson.
A toast at the US Embassy reception to Puy Kea, local correspondent for Kyodo News and a Board Member of the Club of Cambodian Journalists, our wonderful hosts for the Old Hacks Reunion in Phnom Penh 20 to 23 April 2010.
The reunion ended with an Open House at Jim & Milly Pringle's lovely villa up Monivong Boulevard and across from the Calmette Hospital. Here John Giannini (L) chats with George Hamilton with Ken Wagner in background. Admiring his video work is author Richard Brummett, AFP's Patrick Falby and a local Cambodian journalist. The Reunion was over.
The next morning - here draped in farewell Cambodian scarves presented us by Le Royal Hotel - Kim-Dung and I tuk-tuk to the bus terminal and our journey back to Vietnam.
The Neak Luong Ferry heading the other direction.
Our Sapaco Tourist bus heads down the long dirt ramp to the Neak Luong Ferry.
And squeezed into position for the 15-minute run across the Mekong River.
The view from the bridge heading to the eastern shore of the Mekong River at Neak Luong.
Inside the bridge of the Neak Luong Ferry.
And a ferry headed the other direction.
Carl and Kim-Dung during a coffee break near the Cambodia-Vietnam border. Still together after all these years.
The next day back in Saigon was a Sunday and I took Mike Morrow on a motorbike tour around his old haunts. This is the tiny St Xavier Church in Cho Lon where President Ngo Dinh Diem sought refuge during the Nov '63 Coup and was later caught and executed.
The interior of St Xavier's in Cho Lon reflects its strongly Chinese congregation in this part of Saigon.
And then a long run around southern part of Saigon and over the new Phu My Bridge. Here, we look downriver to where the Dong Nai River (L) meets the meandering Saigon River (foreground).
Looking in a more westerly direction but still on the same side of the Phu My Bridge, visible to the right, we look towards Saigon's burgeoning southern suburbs. In the foreground, a freighter loads up with timber exports.
The view from the northern side of the Phu My Bridge looks past a shipyard and toward the skyline of downtown Saigon in the distance.
From the same position but looking in a more northeasterly direction towards what's called District 2 and the next area of Saigon set to boom.
Coming full circle, we find a lovely old temple in Saigon's Dakao District. Once a Daoist and overseen by the Jade Emperor (background), the temple expanded into a Buddhism and other gods and goddesses in recent decades. The statuary is very unique, dark and sombre.
The Buddhist altar inside what was once strictly a Daoist temple in Saigon's Dakao District. The temple was full of worshippers.
Here represented with many arms, the female Boddhisatva is known as Quan Am in Vietnam and highly venerated, especially in the south. A smaller statue of Quan Am adorns the altar.
Ornately wooden carving of Quan Am in the same Daoist temple.
Another intricately-carved wooden mural inside the temple.
Another room in the temple is dedicated to the cult of Thien Hau, the Chinese Goddess of the Sea.
A close-up of some of the statuary.
The pre-reunion in Saigon was already underway with the rooftop of the Rex Hotel our unofficial headquarters. Horst Faas had desperately wanted to be there but wisely took the advice of doctors to stay in Munich. But every evening, we had a video link-up so he could catch up with everyone. Here Carl chats with Horst.
Several Old Hacks signed up for a "Foreign Press Week" staged by the People's Committee of Ho Chi Minh City, or Saigon, which started earlier in the week and then overlapped our own reunion from 28-30 April. Here, in a rather formal setting, we receive a briefing on the final offensive against South Vietnam that ended with the Fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975.
Our main briefer was a major-general who later answered questions.
And Carl Robinson had a question or two. In this case, why didn't you shoot down that chopper I was flying out of Saigon on 29 April 1975? (Photo from Gian Thanh Son.)
And then we visited the former South Vietnamese Presidential Palace, now called Reunification Palace, but I got annoyed at the propaganda film and went out front to sulk for a while. I got even more annoyed at the War Remnants Museum after lunch and didn't bother taking any pictures.
And then we visited a Saigon hospital with a ward for children suffering from birth defects, some but not all from Agent Orange.
Two of the children in the ward which is kept immaculately clean.
This armless 16-year old girl goes to high school and was quite friendly and talkative. Here, she passes the time with a couple other patients at the hospital.
Another young man in the ward.
The second day of "Foreign Press Week" in Saigon, 27 April, included a briefing and lunch with Overseas Vietnamese, or Viet Kieu, as part of program to encourage more to return and/or invest in today's Vietnam. In the afternoon, we were guests of honour at a media conference held by the People's Committee, or City Council, of HCM City.
As group leader of the Old Hacks, I asked the officials about the possibility of erecting a memorial to our colleagues who died in the Vietnam War in the downtown district similar to the one in Phnom Penh. They replied that they'd consider the possibility upon application. Feelings on such a proposal within the Old Hacks Group are mixed. To my right is Glenn MacDonald and then Jim & Milly Pringle. Others further down are invited journalists from Mongolia, India and Russia followed by an out-of-focus MIke Morrow and Jim Caccavo. (Photo from Gian Thanh Son.)
Few of the Old Hacks at the media conference had ever ventured inside Saigon's renowned French colonial era Hotel de Ville at the top of Nguyen Hue Blvd. The interior is indeed quite impressive -- and so is the view straight down the boulevard from the centre balcony.
Also an opportunity for a different angle on the new extension of the Rex Hotel which was once a garage. There is even underground parking here for motorbikes and cars.
And in the other direction, a view of the Eden Building - now under demolition - with the Caravelle and Sheraton hotels behind.
To get onto the front page of the tabloid Cong An, or Police, you either have to be a crim or famous as its stories are drawn from the police blotter. Here, well-known local photographer Gian Thanh Son proudly presents me with several copies of the scandal sheet with me on the front page (upper right story) attending that media briefing on the 1975 offensive. The guys in the bottom story are clearly in some strife.
And the view up the Saigon River from the rooftop of the Majestic Hotel just after 5 pm when the party started. Note new high-rise apartment blocks further upstream past the old naval HQs.
Opening night of the Old Hacks Reunion on 28 April 2010 on the rooftop of the Majestic Hotel. (More pictures are needed of this and other evening functions.)
At Opening Night of the Saigon Reunion on the rooftop of the Majestic Hotel overlooking the Saigon River are Al Rockoff, Edie Lederer and Perry Deane Young. Behind is Ray Wilkinson. (Photo from pdy.)
Perry Deane Young and Peter Arnett share a laugh with George Hamilton at the Opening Night function on the rooftop of the Majestic Hotel. (Photo from Bob Carroll.)
The Old Hacks are officially welcomed to our tour of the Cu Chi Tunnels northwest of Saigon. Also in our group were journalists flown in from various countries to take part in the "Foreign Press Week." (Photo from Hoang Ngoc.)
The following day, 29 April, the People's Committee of HCM City and Saigon Tourism very generously provided the Old Hacks with a bus and guide for a day-trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels and on to Tay Ninh. The tourist attraction is surprisingly well done and here ex-UPI Bob Carroll and Tim Page pose with a copule dummies dressed up in classic VC black pajamas. To left is Nguyen The Cuong of Foreign Affairs and former Press Attache at the Vietnamese Embassy in Washington, DC., who spent the week with the Old Hacks.
Everyone took their turn for a souvenir snap. Here, ex-Newsweek's Bob Stokes and ex-ABC Don North pose for a happy snap.
Bob Carroll and Nik Ut. (Photo from Bob Carroll.)
We were given the VIP treatment with a specially-guided tour that included this rather oversized VC about to disappear into a tunnel. Looking on (LtoR) are Susan Wolkerstorfer; Jim Laurie; a Mongolian TV reporter; Bob Stokes; Terry Wolkestorfer and Fiona McPherson, Simon Dring's partner. The VC popped out of another hole about 20 metres away.
An Old Hack from the Other Side. Nguyen Van Vinh (R) worked for Vietnam Television during the war, including Jane Fonda's visit and the Christmas Bombing of 1972, and today works for Reuters Television, mostly producing his own stories. Vinh's an old friend and here at the Cu Chi Tunnels I've just introduced him to Jim Laurie (L) while one of his Angels, a journalism student from U of Hong Kong looks on. (Photo from Hoang Ngoc.)
A former VC who lost an arm during the war answers our questions during a "lunch break" towards the end of the hour & a half tour - sticky rice, casava and a mix of peanuts and sugar, standard fare in the old days apparently. Here Giang from Foreign Affairs acts as interpreter for a group that includes visiting foreign journalists and Old Hacks who (LtoR) are Mike Morrow, Don Kirk and Simon Dring.
After a pleasant lunch, we visited Tay Ninh's famous Cao Dai Temple. Most tourists visit during the mid-day Mass but are not allowed to circulate around the interior as we were able to do.
To clarify on the originators of the Cao Dai religion, a modern syncrestic religion that combines elements of Daoism, Buddhism, Christianity and Humanism. The religion has millions of followers in southern Vietnam, especially the northern Delta region.
Here are the Three Saints of the Cao Dai religion - Sun Yat-Sen, Victor Hugo and Nguyen Binh Khiem, or Trang-Trinh, who was a 15th Century Vietnamese Nostrodamus.
The All-Seeing Eye -- Asian and not round -- is the primary symbol of the Cao Dai religion, here in the nave of the temple at Tay Ninh. The seat at the centre is for the Cao Dai Pope. Above are symbols of various religions, including Christianity and Buddhism.
A close-up of one of the dragon pillars inside the Cao Dai Temple at Tay Ninh.
Another angle on the All-Seeing Eye.
A side view of the Cao Dai Temple at Tay Ninh northwest of Saigon.
Kim-Dung Robinson negotiated our venues for the Saigon Reunion and was also in charge of making sure all Old Hacks paid their share. Here she mans the entrance to the glittering function in the main ballroom of the Caravelle Hotel. (Photo from Hoang Ngoc.)
Despite a monstrous traffic jam, we made it back in time for a glittering reception and dinner at the Caravelle Hotel. Laid out on tables in the ballroom's reception area was as vast exhibition of photographs taken by Old Hacks, a wonderful way to begin the evening. Left are Tim Page & Mau Harris while Don North is to the right. Originally, a public evening and exhibition was planned by required prior vetting by Vietnamese authorities so we went "unofficial" and held our own private function. (Photo from Bob Carroll.)
Edie Lederer and George Hamilton look over the photo exhibition. (Photo from Hoang Ngoc.)
And George takes a closer look. (Photo from Hoang Ngoc.)
Today's Caravelle Hotel is run as a joint-venture with Saigon Tourism, the government-run conglomerate that owns most of city's hotels. Here, Director-General of the Chains Caravelle Hotel Joint Venture Company Limited, Martyn Davies, visits with actor George Hamilton, a childhood friend of Sean Flynn who went missing in Cambodia in 1970. He attended both reunions. (Photo from Bob Carroll.)
Martyn Davies (L) and Caravelle General Manager John Gardner with George Hamilton at the photo exhibition before the informal dinner at the Caravelle Hotel on 29 April 2010. (Photo from Hoang Ngoc.)
Inside the ballroom, in foreground, Tom Cheatham chats with Martha Northup. In background are Jim Laurie (L) and Martin Stuart-Fox (R). (Photo from Hoang Ngoc.)
The dinner at the Caravelle began with a couple DVD's produced by ex-AP's Neal Ulevich, one of them rare footage of the Five O'Clock Follies, the daily military briefing during the war, this one during the Christmas Bombing Campaign over the heartland of North Vietnam in 1972. (Originally shot in 8mm film, Neal's second DVD was life in the AP Saigon Bureau.) Later in the evening, we passed around the microphone for everyone to have a yarn about their time in Vietnam. Many reckoned this was the best night, but each was brilliant in its own way. (Photo from Bob Carroll.)
JIm Laurie (L) chats with Martin Stuart-Fox. Milly Pringle is obscured to left. (Photo from Hoang Ngoc.)
Jacques and Leslie Leslie watch Neal Ulevich's DVD on antics in the AP Bureau filmed in Super-8. He also showed his film of the 5 O'Clock Follies. (Photo from Hoang Ngoc.)
Hal Drake (L) worked with Stars & Stripes during the war and frequently visited Saigon. He celebrated his 80th birthday during the reunion. (Photo from Hoang Ngoc.)
Neal Ulevich talks to his DVD on daily life in the AP Saigon Bureau. In foreground are Peter Arnett, Mike Morrow and Susan Wolkerstorfer. (Photo from Hoang Ngoc.)
Russell Burrows. (Photo from Hoang Ngoc.)
Edie Lederer is absorbed by the video. (Photo from Hoang Ngoc.)
Peter Arnett helps identify former colleagues during showing of Neal Ulevich's DVD, shot originally on Super-8 film, of daily life in the war-time AP Saigon Bureau. (Photo from Hoang Ngoc.)
Glenn MacDonald sips a beer during the DVD showing. He worked for ABC radio during the war. (Photo from Hoang Ngoc.)
Edie Lederer provides a running commentary on one of the DVD's with Carl Robinson to right. (Photo from Hoang Ngoc.)
Clockwise from top left are Mike Morrow, Susan & Terry Wolkerstorfer, Ken Wagner and Matt Franjola. (Photo from Hoang Ngoc.)
Hal & Kaz Drake during the Caravelle Dinner. (Photo from Hoang Ngoc.)
After the meal, we passed the microphone around. Here, Jim Pringle reminisces about the old days. In foreground is Nguyen The Cuong, former press attache at the Vietnamese Embassy in Washington, DC, and now with Foreign Affairs in Hanoi. He was a 'special guest' during the Old Hacks Reunion and enjoyed hanging out with us. (Photo from Hoang Ngoc.)
Don North had a speech all prepared. (Photo from Hoang Ngoc.)
Tim Page brought the Old Hacks up to date on the search for Sean Flynn and Dana Stone in eastern Cambodia. (Photo from Hoang Ngoc.)
Jacques Leslie, formerly of the LA Times, was expelled by the Saigon Regime and then covered Cambodia and Laos in the last days of the war. (Photo from Hoang Ngoc.)
Perry Deane Young, formerly of UPI and author of "Two of the Missing", was making his first trip back to Vietnam since 1972 and enjoyed himself immensely. (Photo from Hoang Ngoc.)
Matt Franjola worked first for UPI and then with AP covering the war in Cambodia. (Photo from Hoang Ngoc.)
Ken Wagner, once fire chief at Long Binh, later worked for UPI and is a close friend of Matt Franjola. (Photo from Hoang Ngoc.)
Bob Stokes worked for Newsweek Magazine during the war. (Photo from Hoang Ngoc.)
John Giannini looks like he's getting a bit of consolation from Philip Jones Griffiths' two daughters who were 'special guests' at Saigon and Phnom Penh Reunions. John has known them for years. To left is Katherine Holden and centre is Fanny Ferrato. (Photo from Hoang Ngoc.)
Jacques and Leslie Leslie with Tim Page as the dinner ends rather late. (Photo from Hoang Ngoc.)
Don North with Edet Belzberg (L) who is researching a possible feature film on Kate Webb. (Photo from Hoang Ngoc.)
After a glittering evening function at the Caravelle Hotel, the next day was 30 April - or Reunification Day - which commemorates the Fall/Liberation of Saigon in 1975. Tickets to the massive parade held every five years were hard to get but we managed to squeeze in (LtoR) Peter Arnett, Carl Robinson with captured NVA flag, Mike Morrow, Simon Dring and Fiona McPherson. Most of those around us were communist party representatives from around the world, such as the Indian delegation just to Mike's left.
Peter Arnett mugs a pose with some old vets from the winning side.
Everyone was on their feet with those in military uniforms saluting during the playing of Vietnam's national anthem.
The parade along the old Thong Nhut Boulevard, now Le Duan, leading down to the Palace went on for three long hours. The National Liberation Front, or VC, flag got a bit of a run too -- and plenty of Uncle Ho's too.
And just for good measure, they sang the Internationale in Vietnamese and flashed up a few communist hammer & sickles.
"Long Live the Communist Party of Vietnam," or something like that.
And the southern National Liberation Front, or Viet Cong, flag.
A few Ho's.
Finally, the end with a tower, dragons, drums and flags -- all symbols used by the Communist Regime to claim a Dynastic Lineage. All kinda' weird -- but glad we saw it close-up.
Tim Page wanders up to the lunch-time boat cruise on the Saigon River, 30 April 2010. (Photo from Hoang Ngoc.)
Mike Morrow and Jim Laurie before the boat cruise. (Photo from Hoang Ngoc.)
Jim Laurie (L) with Asian Wall Street Journal's John Krich (R) and someone else who needs an ID. Tom Cheatham is in background. (Photo from Hoang Ngoc.)
Teh group mills about before boarding the lunch-time cruise. Easiest identifiable is Bob Carroll in foreground. Behind are Al Rockoff, Steve Northup, Peter Arnett, Don North and Richard Brummett to right. (Photo from Hoang Ngoc.)
Jacques and Leslie Leslie are followed by Al Rockoff and Elisabeth Stuart-Fox down to the cruise. (Photo from Hoang Ngoc.)
Kim-Dung checks off the names on the lunch-time boat cruise on 30 April 2010. In foreground, Matt Franjola chats with Amelia Green while Edet Belzberg (obscured) chats with AWSJ's John Krich. Next to KD is grand-niece Hong. (Photo from Hoang Ngoc.)
And then we went for a lunch-time cruise on the Saigon River but everyone was too busy talking to do much sightseeing. At this table are (LtoR) Deanna North; Ralph Hemecker, travelling with Perry Deane Young, next; Russell Burrows; Edie Lederer; Bobbi and Emily Burrows.
Clockwise around table are Susan Wolkerstorfer; Jacques & Leslie Leslie; John Giannini; Richard Brummett; Jim Caccavo and Terry Wolkerstorfer.
Clockwise from left are Jim Laurie; Nhung & Doug Reese, ex-military and resident of Saigon; Don Kirk; Ray Wilkinson and Tom Cheatham.
On left side, Matt Franjola with two women researching Kate Webb story, Amelia Green (L) and Edet Belzberg (R); Asian Wall Street Journal's John Krich; Ken Wagner and Bob Carroll.
Clockwise from front left are Elizabeth Stuart-Fox; Martha and Steve Northup; Martin Stuart-Fox; Peter Arnett and Don North.
A shot of Carl Robinson carefully recording the tables on the Saigon River boat cruise. Here, Mike Morrow (R) is interviewed by a group of journalism students - dubbed Jim Laurie's Angels - from the University of Hong Kong who used the Old Hacks, and the trip to Vietnam, as one huge assignment. They were a pleasure to meet -- and we wish them all well in their careers. (Photo from Bob Carroll.)
At the Maxim's Farewell Dinner are Jim Okuley, brother the late Bert of UPI, George Hamilton, Nicole Okuley and Perry Deane Young. (Photo from Bob Carroll.)
At our Farewell Dinner at Maxim's, Edie Lederer interviews Tim Page for a quote or two for a piece she was writing for the Overseas Press Club in NY. (photo from Bob Carroll.)
The next day after the reunion, several of us travelled down to the Coconut Monk's Island in the Mekong River between Mytho and Ben Tre. Here, we stop for a coffee where George Hamilton (R) entertained us with stories of his recent appearance on the British version of 'I'm a Celebrity, Get me Out of Here!' filmed in Australia. Clockwise from him are Carl Robinson; John Giannini; Mike Morrow; Kim-Dung Robinson; Perry Deane Young and Ralph Hemecker.
A new suspension bridge now bridges the Mekong River at Mytho rendering the ferry to the Ben Tre side obsolete.
Several of us were 'inducted' into the Coconut Monk's Daoist sect back in 1968. Here, a slightly older Perry Deane Young poses next to a photo at the local museum showing him, the monk and John Steinbeck IV on that day. We joked this now makes him officially "famous".
This was Perry Deane's first return to Vietnam -- and the island -- since 1972 and on the boat trip to the island his mind was soon in reverie.
Perry Deane with the Big Banana on the Coconut Monk's Island.
The Coconut Monk's Island is now a tourist destination and far distant from its war-time days as a refuge for draft dodgers and deserters from both sides. Only a few know its real story, much less why we were on our knees praying. This is the same spot where we were 'ordained' into the sect back in 1968.
The large prayer circle and its ornate dragon columns remain.