Today we visited Cat Lai Terminal which is one of the largest shipping ports in Vietnam. The freight is tracked through a control center. Ships carry cargo imported from many countries and are scheduled to deliver cargo at specific times. All transactions are kept track in the control center which is where all operations are overseen. If the computer system malfunctions they have radios and phones to communicate to the incoming ships to keep track of all cargo. Cat Lai also organizes their freight yard to facilitate finding cargo. They sort their yard based on the destination the Cargo is from/going and the type of containers. This helps keep the cargo easy to find and manageable. Cat Lai receives imports from other countries primarily from their biggest importer, China. They also export goods from the dock to their biggest buyer, the United States. When exporting goods to the United States, the cargo must be transferred to a deep-sea port, this is because the river depth of Cat Lai is only 12 meters deep which is not enough to support deep water vessels which require 14-16 meters deep of water. The location was chosen because it is right next to Ho Chi Minh City which has one of the fastest growing economies in the world. They also happen to be situated not too far from the Mekong Delta which opens up the range of countries that they are able to export goods to. Cat Lai holds 91% of the market share in Ho Chi Minh City and does not have too much competition in Vietnam. It was really cool to see how one of the most successful shipping ports in the world operates as a unit, which is really amazing considering they just celebrated their 30th anniversary.
After Cat Lai we headed to the Reunification Palace. I’ve been wanting to visit this site for a while because I got to see where the President of South Vietnam stayed as well as the vice president. This is the location where the historic picture was taken of the tank busting down the gates to the palace. My grandpa has relations to the South Vietnamese Vice President through work and it astounded me that he could have been standing where I was 50 years ago. They showed us all the rooms that the president would host meetings as well as leisurely rooms like his casino and theater. I was really surprised to see how decorated the president’s living space was being that he isn’t considered royalty. I took the most pictures I’ve ever taken at a site because I want to show my grandparents to see if they have any recollection of the place. It’s amazing to learn about the historical significance of a location for something that happened decades ago, especially when things are so peaceful now.