This morning, we visited one of the largest shipping ports in Vietnam, Cat Lai Terminal. The terminal has been a major link in the Saigon Port network for over 40 years, acting as a keystone in the eastern Asia supply chain and servicing the majority of South Vietnam’s trade lines, which accounts for a sizable portion of Vietnam’s total economy.
Cat Lai’s location on the shore of the Dong Nai River, which funnels directly to the South China Sea, makes it a convenient and logistically strategic place to for shipping companies to take advantage of Vietnam’s easternmost location on the Asian continent. Cat Lai Terminal is also unique in that of the just five x-ray scanners able to more efficiently inspect TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) in Ho Chi Minh City, three of them are located in Cat Lai.
Visiting the port may not have been one of the more culturally rewarding aspects of my experience in Vietnam, but it gave me a new appreciation for the size and pace of the supply chain and how important strategic planning is in making it run effectively.
In the afternoon, we visited the Reunification Palace, former home to the President of South Vietnam during the war. Also known as Independence Palace, the complex was the site of the war’s final days as North Vietnamese tanks famously crashed through its gates during the 1975 fall of Saigon.
Vietnamese people presently see the palace as a symbol of reunion and cooperation, as it serves as Ho Chi Minh City’s most extravagant reminder of the North’s victory and the rebirth of the nation as a communist state.
The inside of the palace was the most beautiful of any site we have visited thus far. The offices and living quarters were tastefully adorned with intricate furniture and original artwork. Its powerful history and elegant design made me appreciate the uniqueness of the Southern Vietnamese culture and the solidarity of the unified Vietnam the world knows today.