Our morning began with a trip to Cat Lai Terminal, one of the biggest ports in Vietnam. I was surprised to hear that Cat Lai is almost as big as the biggest port in the United States, which goes to show just how important imports and exports are to the economy in Vietnam. As we drove around, we could see the sheer volume of containers all over the port. We also got to visit the control tower, where we heard more about how the port is able to handle this amount of cargo. Many industrial engineering principles were involved in the process such as optimization. This is so the company is able to move cargo in the fastest way possible. The control tower monitors what goods are located where in the port and has to plan ahead for what will be placed on the bottom of a stack and what will go on the top.
After the visit to the port, we moved to the reunification palace, an important site in Vietnamese history. This was the headquarters of South Vietnam during the war, and the war ended here when Northern Vietnamese tanks burst through the gates, forcing surrender. It was very interesting to walk around and see the rooms that were used for meetings and planning during the war. It was also interesting to see the rooms that were actually lived in such as the President’s bedroom, the movie theater, and the game room. Today, the name “reunification” explains what the palace is viewed as now, a symbol of peace in Vietnamese history.