Day 10: Fancy Seeing You Here

This morning we got the opportunity to visit Cat Lai Terminal in Ho Chi Minh City, the largest and most modern container terminal in Vietnam. Cat Lai Terminal offers a variety of services such as: trans-shipment/transit/import-export cargoes, maintenance, stowage of goods, and goods handling just to name a few. With such a large impact on the transportation of goods, Cat Lai Terminal has become one of the top Intra-Asia feeders in the world.

Container handler lifting up a few tons of cargo to be transported

So how freight is handled within customs at the Cat Lai Terminal is actually through the Saigon Newport Corporation, its governing body. For any incoming or outgoing freight, the Saigon Newport Corporation will classify the cargo’s level of inspection based on the container’s shipping line and goods being transported. Depending on these factors and more, the container inspection can go either three ways: pass directly through customs, require additional paperwork to be filled, or get a physical inspection requiring the container to be opened and searched. In addition, the Saigon Newport Corporation offers logistics services as a third party logistics services provider by using a complicated software to ensure all containers are properly tracked and in the system. By taking all of these necessary precautions, the Saigon Newport Corporation has become the #1 international container terminal operator and logistics provider in Vietnam and 25th in the world.

Now for location, Vietnam is an optimal location because it is considered as a potential international port for transportation due to its surrounding countries and vast river networks. Hence, Cat Lai Terminal is located in its specific spot in Ho Chi Minh City to directly access the river channels in Vietnam connecting to its neighboring countries.  But the main incentive of it being located here is that great import and export volume occurs in this city. Further, since Vietnam has signed many trade agreements with countries all over the world, it has resulted in a decrease in tariffs and in turn an increase in trade. With the ability to ship any cargo from its ports to practically anywhere oversees by being in a location that promotes international trade, Cat Lai Terminal has become a valuable asset to Vietnam and the rest of the world. There are a few other ports like Cat Lai Terminal in Vietnam, but none come close to having the selection of ships and large scale transportation of goods that Cat Lai Terminal provides.

After lunch—we ate at Pizza Hut which was surprisingly better than I expected—we got to tour the Reunification Palace and pretend we were important high-class officials for the day.

Historically during World War II, the palace was called Norodom Palace and was the office of the French colonists occupied in Vietnam. Yet when the French surrendered and signed the Geneva Accords to withdraw its troops from Vietnam, the Norodom Palace was passed over to the Prime Minister of the State of Vietnam, Ngo Dinh Diem. Diem declared himself president of the Republic of Vietnam and renamed the building to the Independence Palace.

However when the Vietnam War took place, two pilots of Diem’s Vietnam Air Force rebelled against the Republic of Vietnam and bombed the Independence Palace. With almost the entire left wing of the palace destroyed, Diem just ordered the remains of the palace to be demolished and that a new one be built instead. The new palace was to be designed by Ngo Viet Thu, a nationally acclaimed architect. Yet Diem did not live long enough to see his new palace be finished since he was assassinated. As a result, General Nguyen Van Thieu was inaugurated and took over. But fear of communist North Vietnamese forces moving into Saigon led Thieu to flee the country. And on April 30, 1975, a military tank of the North Vietnamese Army bulldozed through the main gate, signaling the end of the Vietnam War. After North and South Vietnam completed their negotiation for peace, the palace that Diem had instructed to be built was renamed the Reunification Palace—its current name.

For the people of Vietnam who yearn for the days prior to the Vietnam War, the Reunification Palace is a somber reminder to them that things are no longer what they used to be. On the other hand, the palace is also a symbol that the war has ended and that the North and South of Vietnam are united and working together for the better of Vietnam. Hopefully we can all look past the history of the Vietnam War as we acknowledge the union of Vietnam and its promise to change.



Until next time friends


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