It’s my third week in Hanoi, and there are many famous and historical sites that I’ve yet to see in the city. Because I leave for North Thang Long Economic-Technical College (NTLC) just after 8 am and only get back to the centre of Hanoi around 5 pm weekdays, it can be challenging to fit being a tourist into my schedule.
Tonight a few of us volunteering with WUSC Vietnam decided be tourists for a change and check out the water puppets, an art form that originated in Northern Vietnam –I had heard it is a must see show in Hanoi. We went to the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre near Hoan Kiem Lake early and ended up getting front centre seats, which are by far the best in the house!
The performance takes place indoors in a small theatre, and the stage includes a square pool full of murky green water. A group of musicians sit beside the pool and perform throughout the show and before the puppets appear. The puppet show consists of a series of vignettes about rural life, such as farm work and coconut picking, and legends, such as the carp transformed into a dragon.
The puppets are made out of wood and glide with ease across the surface of the water, the poles and other mechanisms the puppeteers use to manoeuvre them hidden by the darkness of the water and the theatre. The show was quite spectacular, with swimming puppets, horse riding puppets jumping through a ring of fire, a coconut tree climbing puppet, and a soaring dragon puppet rising from the pool into the rafters of the theatre.
It’s a fun experience, whether you’re young or young at heart.