We woke up bright and early this morning and hit the road in pursuit to Cat Lai port on the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh city. Saigon Newport Corporation is in charge of the operations of this port which is home to thousands of shipping crates, multiple ships and trucks, and one large control tower that oversees it all. The port is open 24/7 meaning trucks and ships are constantly flowing in and out of the port and transporting crates worldwide. Each container is marked specifically and tracked via the company’s app letting the customer know where their goods are and when they should arrive. We toured around the port and finished by going into the control tower which holds some very confusing technology that is used to keep everything organized and running smoothly. We were shown a live map of the port and how each container area is tracked so the workers in the control tower can tell drivers where to unload their crates. This port is very important in Vietnam as it has been around for 30 years, and holds around 70% of the market share in this industry. They are well established, and being in the location that they are in on the Vietnamese coast, they have very easy access to the rest of world. Although coming in to today I was expecting this visit to be a little boring, I ended up finding it extremely interesting as it felt so chaotic yet organized all at once. Keeping an area that large open 24 hours a day seems daunting but Saigon Newport Corporation pulled it off and in an impressive way.
After lunch, we went back towards our hotel and went on a tour of the Reunification Palace. This palace was formally the workplace of South Vietnamese General Ngo Dinh Diem until his death. This is also the home of the end of the Vietnam War when a North Vietnamese tank crashed through its front gates in 1975. This palace used to be the main workplace for South Vietnamese officials to meet and discuss plans, especially during the Vietnam War. It is still occasionally used today for important meetings but its mostly used as a tourist attraction as it is filled with history. Being there and seeing an original tank that crashed through the palace gates gave me a strange feeling as I know what preceded that moment, and the consequences of the end of the war. I imagined seeing South Vietnamese officials meeting in the rooms that we toured and thinking about the tension that must have been in the air. As the South saw their inevitable end coming, I like to wonder how the atmosphere in official meetings was and if people slowly started to give up their efforts in the fight against the North. In the end the Vietnam war was a civil war and the civilians view its end as a symbol of reunification and an end to the hardship that Vietnam has faced throughout its history. Vietnam finally became independent and the citizens take a lot of pride in this to this day.
After the visit to the palace, we took the bus back to the hotel and were greeted by our tailors who gave us our Ao Dai’s (Vietnamese traditional clothing). Everyone was very excited and it was an amazing experience to put my own on (although they are very slim fit!). We are wearing them later this week for a presentation so its safe to say that I am excited for that as well.