5/16 Cat Lai and the Reunification Palace

Today we drove to the Cat Lai Terminal south of Ho Chi Minh City. Cat Lai is an important shopping port due to its location near both major shipping routes in the ocean and important economic areas such as Ho Chi Minh City. At Cat Lai, shipping companies can reserve a time months in advance to unload their boat using cranes. The companies can then keep their containers at the port for up to a week before they have to pay to store them there. During the tour we went up to the control tower to see firsthand how they manage all the containers.  It was quite an impressive room with many monitors showing maps of the terminal and the location of all the containers. Cat Lai uses computer software from Australia to help them keep the containers organized. The port is mid sized and can take up to 16,000 containers a month. It receives 10 ships at a time on its 2km long loading dock and each ship takes 12-16 hours to fully unload. An indication of the development of Vietnam was the fact that the company is now seeing more exports than before. This shows that Vietnam is now producing more as it development goes farther along. Customs are also done at the port and the line was very long. It was easy to see why companies find industrial parks like VSIP to be an attractive option. After Cat Lai, we headed back to the city and went to the Reunification Palace. The palace is not in use today and has not been since South Vietnam fell.  However, the historical significance is great. This was the main building for the South Vietnamese government. During the war it wear many important meetings were held by the South Vietnamese government. It is also the site of the famous picture of tanks from the north breaking in through the wall, representing the fall of the South Vietnamese government. Today the palace represents the victory of the north and the reunification of the country. One thing that fascinated me about the building was the interior design. I found all the very bright carpet choices to be a bit odd. However it was a very interesting place to visit considering it’s historical significance and after seeing it in the Ken Burns documentary.  After the palace I headed off for my 2nd to last street food dinner in the city. I’m disappointed this trip went by so quickly, as I will really miss trying all sorts of Vietnamese food. 

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