Cat Lai-in Around the Palace

Today started pretty early, so the bus to the shipping port was spent entirely asleep. Upon getting to Cat Lai Terminal, the largest shipping port in all of Vietnam, I knew today was going to be interesting, but not as exciting as others. We spent an hour or so learning about what happens at the port. Then it was time for the tour.

When overseas shipping begins, a truck will drop off a shipping container full of product at the port, which will be inspected by either x-ray scanners or by opening up the container. Once inspection is passed the port takes the container and places it among the thousands of others until the ship that is taking it to its destination has arrived and is ready for loading. They keep track of each container entirely electronically, and have backups upon backups in case any issues arrive with the main system. Once the container has a ship to call a home, it is taken out of the storage stacks and magnetically lifted onto a truck and then again onto the ship.

Upon arrival, for incoming shipments, the reverse happens. A container is unloaded from its ship, taken through customs, and inspected for safety like before. It gets stacked in with other outgoing shipments, waiting for pickup from a delivery truck that will take it to the final destination. When a driver arrives, he or she will have the cargo in the truck within 45 minutes, which is insane considering how large this port is, and how hard it must be to make sure everything goes smoothly. This site is so appealing because of its proximity to Ho Chi Minh City. Naturally, the largest port, of many, in the country is on the coast nearest to the economic powerhouse of Vietnam.

Once we finished taking the tour of the port, we had another small lecture/game with a Navy Officer who works for the port, which is a state owned enterprise. He had us answer a few multiple choice questions and if you were wrong, you were out. With a question about supply chain and logistics, all of the supply chain and logistics majors were out of the game, and only 3 engineers and 1 business major remained. The number dwindled to 1 and 1, myself and Joe, who spoiled Game of Thrones for me so I was determined to win. We both kept getting answers right, and then got the same question wrong so we called it a tie and both got a little pen as our prize.

We left the port and since we were running a bit late because of our intense Business vs Engineering showdown, we went right to the Reunification Palace. This was the White House of South Vietnam, until the country was… reunified… and has since become a historical museum. We learned about how the President and Vice President lived and operated out of the palace, and got to see every floor, including the rooftop and bunker. It was kind of eerie walking around a completely in tact capitol building for a country that doesn’t exist anymore. It almost felt like a James Bond set, with the Asian twists on very 60s decor. It is also kind of strange that Vietnam has left the building standing, but I enjoy that they do not try to hide most of what happened before reunification in 1975.

Overall, a much less busy day than yesterday, and now its time for some Dimsum for dinner!

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