Today we got to do some fun stuff, including visiting the Cat Lai terminal and the independence palace- overall a very exciting day! The Cat Lai terminal is one of the largest ports in Vietnam, and certainly looked like it. There were seemingly endless rows of shipping containers, with cranes and other machinery moving the 20 and 40ft containers around, This port enables people to both use the company containers and to ship them directly using the port’s own ships vs using their own containers and simply using the terminal to ship the items. The containers that are 20ft are opened and filled with heavy stuff that doesn’t take up too much room, like rice, and then the container has to go through customs. The importer or exporter has to ensure that the declarations for customs goes through, which often involved X-rays into the containers and 50%, 75%, or 100% searches to determine if there was anything illegal in the cargo.
After travelling to the terminal we got too see the independence palace, and visit a lot of the rooms while hearing about the history of the palace. The palace used to be like the Vietnamese government’s version of the White House in Washington DC, it was the home of the Southern Vietnamese president and his family as well as where he could hold conferences and conventions and entertain diplomats. The Palace also had a bomb shelter in the basement with lots of maps of vietnam and battles fought here. In the end the bomb shelter was not really needed, but the palace itself had become a symbol of Northern victory.