Today we visited Cat Lai Terminal and learned about the shipping industry and ports in Vietnam. We were told that Cat Lai is one of the biggest ports in Vietnam which I can definitely believe after seeing the seemingly endless rows of crates stacked on top of one another. Cat Lai is a feeder terminal, which is kind of like saying it’s a medium sized terminal. It takes in small shipments and other medium sized shipments for use in Vietnam and sends its own boats out to other countries with larger terminals. I found it interesting that Cat Lai has the capacity to be one of the larger terminals, but because its water isn’t deep enough, only 12 meters, it can’t bring in the larger boats. I would definitely be annoyed by the fact that water depth could potentially influence my business if I worked in the shipping industry. Cat Lai is able to keep track of their shipments through their control tower which has screens with different colors showing how many crates are in each location and information about the ships coming in and out. This shows how development is reaching all industries as shipping terminals are even beginning to experiment with “smart ports.” The shipping industry also plays a large role in the globalization of Vietnam. Most of the shipments come in from other countries and the boats leaving the port also go to other countries such as China and Malaysia. With the free trade agreements signed by the government and their willingness to open their borders, the growing shipping industry is become an important factor for Vietnam.
After a cafeteria style lunch at Cat Lai we went to the Reunification Palace a few blocks from our hotel. The palace was where the president and vice president of South Vietnam lived with their families prior to North Vietnam winning the war and reunifying the country. Most of the dining rooms and offices were decorated with large oil paintings and patterned carpets. I especially liked the meeting room which was almost all green because it was supposed to be a relaxing color during stressful meetings. It was also cool to see the bomb shelters in the basement and how many different secret tunnels and modes of protection they had to keep the people living in the house safe. The whole setup of the building and the different rooms reminded me a lot of a tour of the White House I took a few years ago. In general, the palace represents peace, and is a reminder to the people of what used to be in Vietnam and how the country has overcome so much to get to where it is today.