Cat Lai, Reunify, Blue Skies

Today was another early one- our bus left around 7:30 in the morning. Our schedule was less complicated today. We visited Cat Lai Terminal, then we went to the Reunification Palace, which is where this famous picture was taken:

The Cat Lai terminal is one of Vietnam’s busiest ports. Large shipping containers filter in and out of this terminal every day, 24 hours a day. We got to see an inside look at how all of these containers are organized and moved around. Large cranes are used to unload containers from the barges, after which the containers are sent through an x-ray machine for security purposes. The control room at the terminal visualized all of this information with a dynamic map. Barges that were on time appeared blue, and those that were more than six hours late appeared red. Once the containers are screened, they are send into the exports section of the port, where it will be eventually loaded onto a truck and shipped. I was very impressed by the thorough process at the terminal. Seeing this reiterated Vietnam’s ability to reach its potential in economic growth.

The location of the terminal itself is a large part of what makes it so busy.

It is directly next to Ho Chi Minh City, the economic powerhouse of Vietnam. In addition, the water is deep enough for certain boats to safely enter the port. However, large boats cannot enter this terminal. Cat Lai is a feeder port, since only smaller boats can enter the somewhat deep waters. Large boats go to a port in north Vietnam where the water is deep enough.

Next, we visited the Reunification Palace, once known as the Independence Palace. It was built by the French in the late 19th century. The French High Commissioner occupied it after World War II, but its most recognized resident was the president of South Vietnam in 1955, Ngo Dinh Diem. Throughout the Vietnam war, the palace was used as a war planning location, containing U.S. advisers. The palace was renamed the Reunification Palace after the fall of Saigon in 1975.

The significance of this palace can be seen within. Almost all of the furniture, floors, and decorations are preserved. The palace serves as a window into the past and into the lives of pivotal figures in the Vietnam War. It is a national monument that represents the struggle and triumph of the Vietnamese people.

Tomorrow, I will put on lots of bug spray.

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