May 17th – Independence Palace


Cat Lai Terminal where cargo is loaded onto ships.


This morning, we went straight to the Cat Lai Terminal which is owned by Saigon Newport Corporation.  The Cat Lai Terminal is one of the largest ports in Vietnam.  Cat Lai is located in Ho Chi Minh.  This location is ideal because it is so close to the Mekong Delta, China, many other asain countries, and the port is able to support cargo, feeder, AND mother ships, which basically describes the sizes of the boats.  It has four gates for FCL cargos which are full container loads.  The terminal exports mainly to the U.S.A. and imports mainly from China.  Their three core businesses are port operation, sea transport and offshore services, and logistic services.  The Saigon Newport Corporation is ranked number one for cargo volume in Vietnam and number 25 in the world.  Customs for Cat Lai is handled differently depending on the customers.  If the customers need it right away, they can make a customs declaration.  For example, Samsung might need their equiptment as soon as it reaches the terminal, where as other companies aren’t able to take all of their shipment in right away because of storage purposes.  Cat Lai will provide 5 days of free storage and then there is rental fee for each container that needs to be held per day.  Usually they take the declaration and search the cargo to make sure there’s no illegal eqiptment inside of it.  If they have suspitions, they will send it through an xray machine to double check.  They use a computer software to keep close track of everyload, when it enters, an exits, how much it weighs, and who it came from.


The Reunification Palace


After the terminal visit we visited the Reunification Palace, which as the tour guide informed us is actually called Independence Palace.  This palace is definitely extravagent.  It was really strage to walk inside and see a fairy modern palace, not like Versailles in Paris.  The inside rooms on the first and second floor reminded me a lot of the Newport masions in the way that they were very over the top and decorated.  The palace was so huge and lavish.  The significance of the palace is that the war was ended there when the Viet Cong crshed through the front gates of the palace and raised their flag there.  Ultimately signalling the victory and the end of the war.  Even though the upper floors were beautiful, I thought the coolest part war the bunker in the basement of the castle.  The bunker had a lot of war time rooms and it was still filled with the maps that had been drawn on with sharpie and dotted with thumb tacs to signify battles.  It was the first time I had seen something like that.  We also go to see a lot of computer and radio communication rooms in the bunker that was able to protect people from two tons of bombs hitting them.  This palace is now a symbol of national pride or Vietnamese people, and that fact was fairly aparent throughout the visit.


Behind the fountain you are able to see the gates that were broken down by the Viet Cong when they took over the palace.


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