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For this updating on Relocation with Children, we want to share with you an article that was written at the very beginning of Expatclic, but that, up-dated and reviewed, is still very interesting for families that relocate to Vietnam, or simply to find out about Vietnamese culture. Paolaexpat worked with us when the site was launched, and she was living in Hanoi. Today Paola lives in the Unites States, and she keeps in contact with us.

The Expatclic Team
September 2012

There is a very nice show for children (but for adults, too) in Hanoi, Vietnam: puppets on the water. Paolaexpat tells us about it.


puppets on the waterDear friends, if you have no idea about the climate in Vietnam, I am here to tell you: humid. But that’s not enough to explain that Vietnamese feel very happy in the water, to the point that puppets here are also shown in the water, and not in theaters like in the rest of the world!

I am not talking about a modern idea to attract tourists; this is a real popular Vietnamese tradition. In the center of Hanoi, on Hoan Kiem Lake, you can find a theatre that was set up exclusively to show puppets in the water. You can also see them at the Ethnological Museum almost every Sunday. Here, shows change every month, because they are played by companies of different regions, each one with its own tradition).

Let me tell you how it works: the stage is right in front of you, but set at a lower level, so that you can watch it from above. And on the stage there is…water, of course! On one side of the stage there is a red curtain and puppets are moved from behind it by wires placed underneath the water. This way you have the impression that puppets actually walk on the water.

puppets on the waterStories are simple and they talk a lot of princesses, abductions, love and lots and lots of fights. A typical element of the Asiatic culture is the dragon, so be prepared to big fights among spitfire dragons that face each other below and above the water. To make the fire effect they throw some firecrackers on the water, so that chaos is ensured.

In the meantime the ballad singers keep on telling the tale, accompanied by musicians with drums and tambourines, and the public is encouraged to participate with screams and whistles, taking sides of one or another character.
You’ll be a bit deaf and probably sort of wet when you leave the show, but it is nice and fun, and children love it!

Xin chao – Bye


puppets on the waterCinzia, an Italian that lived in Vietnam for a long time a while ago, sends us this comment:

“I can say that I enormously enjoyed the show of water puppets for its naivety and the simplicity of the tale, that was about fishing, a typical Vietnamese family, rice fields and dragons… I also enjoyed the live music and the singer. Discovering the use of colors on puppets was also very nice. It’s just in the end that you just find out about the technique that moves puppet. There are also special effects with simple fireworks”.

Article by Paolaexpat
February 2005
Photos by QTLuong – terragalleria.com

Translated from Italian by Claudiaexpat
To know more about water puppets: https://www.thanglongwaterpuppet.org/?/en/Home/
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