Today began with yet another early morning, as we had to make the hour drive to the Cat Lai terminal in order to arrive at 9:00. My first impression of the port was that it was massive, teeming with large cranes, barges, and crates as far as I could see. It was interesting to learn much about the operations of the terminal, and the way in which they take luggage from other ships, store it in a systematic, organized fashion, and prepare it to either be shipped out to another terminal, or taken by a truck. From the control tower, we were able to see how they keep track of which crates are where, what time shipments are supposed to arrive and depart, and just help the organization of the place in general. I believe that the decision to have a port in Ho Chi Minh City was made for a plethora of reasons. Ho Chi Minh is the economic center of Vietnam, so many exports and imports need to exit and enter the city, and the river leading directly to the Pacific ocean makes it easy for large ships from throughout the Pacific to arrive at the port. There are several of these ports throughout the country, many of them owned by the government, just as this was, and this company is starting to expand more into the northern parts of the country, near Vietnam’s capitol, Hanoi. The trip to the terminal was interesting from the perspective of a business student who likely will major in Supply Chain Management, and it greatly improved my knowledge of global supply chains.
In the afternoon, we were able to take a tour of the Reunification Palace, which once was the home of the president of the Republic of Vietnam. The palace was strikingly beautiful from the inside out, with countless floors of eloquent rooms, and even a few secret rooms here and there. Once again, the palace served, from an American perspective, as a reminder of a war that we lost, that we ultimately never should have fought. For the Vietnamese, however, it is symbolic of the beginning of an independent Vietnam, something that rarely existed throughout the nations long history. On the day when the tanks rolled in, and the president of South Vietnam surrendered, it was a day of liberation for Vietnam, not just from the US backed government of Saigon, but from years of imperialist oppression, from France, China, and America.
Today was more of a relaxed day than yesterday, which as a group, we ultimately needed. What we did not need was the disappointing cafeteria food we ate while at Cat Lai, but I ultimately appreciate the fact that they fed us. The day hopefully shall be redeemed, in terms of food, by the Dim Sum we are having later tonight. I am greatly anticipating the trip to the Mekong Delta tomorrow, and all of the insight into Vietnam’s agricultural sector that it will provide us with.