Tag Archives: SE Asia

Entrance to Thang Long Water Puppet Theater

Thang Long Water Puppet Theater – Hanoi

Soon after learning about this traditional art special to Vietnam- I put it on my must-do list for the country. We decided upon visitng the Thang Long Water Puppet Theater in Hanoi, which was an excellent choice.

Deciding Upon A Theater

We knew we would have multiple opportunities to catch a water puppet show so we put it off in Ho Ch Minh while we did other activities which could only be found there such as the War Remnants Museum, the Cu Chi Tunnels, and so on. Our first glimpse of a water puppet theater stage occurred there, though, in the Museum of Vietnamese History.

There was a room with a stage and seating off to the side of one of the museum rooms where you could catch shows at certain times. This show, while on a smaller “stage” than the show we ended up seeing, is allegedly quite good! We might have gone except that it was starting as we arrived so we didn’t have much time to debate the extra little cost – we were on quite a budget at that time. There were other options in Ho Chi Minh as well, but ultimately we ended up going to the famous Thang Long Water Puppet Theater after making it to Hanoi.

Water Puppet Theater Entrance

Cultural Piece of the Red Delta River

One special thing about seeing the show there is that water puppetry actually originated in north Vietnam – specifically in the Red Delta River area in the north – back in the 11th century. Apparently this was a form of entertainment used by villagers when their rice fields were flooded.

They were sometimes used to celebrate the end of the season and other special occasions. In the old days, they would build pagodas in the rice fields which could hide the puppeteers who would stand in the waist to chest deep water controlling the puppets. The water hid the puppet controls and served as a stage. Back then, they would also often be dealing with cold water which could have leeches and water-borne diseases in order to put on these shows.

The Thang Long Water Puppet Theater

The Thang Long Water Puppet Theater was established in 1969 as a way to preserve tradition and increase tourism. The puppets they use are carved from wood and are controlled with bamboo rods and string.

Scenes and skits performed in the show address aspects of daily life for rural farmers like fishing and farming, as well as performances relating to folklore, festivals, and more. Water puppet performers from this theater have toured 40 countries to put on shows as well. If you’d like to get a glimpse of what to expect, you can check out some videos on youtube.

Little Figures

Anyway, this was one of the first things we did our first time in Hanoi. Our last 10 days or so in HCM was spent away from District 1. This was during the period of Tet so we had plenty of time to get work done and were able to go out and sight-see pretty immediately once we got to Hanoi.

Getting Tickets

On our first day out we walked quite a bit but it was the next day we chose to walk to the theater. It’s located near Hoan Kiem Lake and lots of other neat activities in the Old Quarter, but was quite a long walk from our Airbnb at the time.

Road near our Airbnb

When we got to the theater, they were sold out! Be aware that this could happen to you due to its popularity.

Crowded Theater

We did not find tickets available online at the time. It seems fairly common to sell out early for the day and sometimes even the next day or two. So, we bought tickets for the next day, got some coffee (Kyle) and tea (me) and then wandered around the area. Proceeding to get quite lost in the process, making our journey back hours longer.

Crowded Hanoi

The next day we were so exhausted we decided to just get a taxi to the theater. The funny thing is that all of this could have been avoided because after our 10 days on Cat Ba we ended up staying at a place just around the corner from the theater! That’s how things go I guess! Fortunately, like everything else, transportation is pretty cheap there and our taxi ride only cost us about $2. We walked the way back – pretty sure we got lost again.

A Great Show

Overall, we really enjoyed the show. I noticed from online reviews that it’s not everyone’s thing- but it was our’s! We weren’t entirely sure what to expect but here are some of the things we liked:

  • It was educational. I felt like I learned a little bit about the history and even culture of the area and life for rural villagers in Vietnam. There were scenes of fishing, festival events, etc.
  • It was entertaining. The show even made me laugh out loud a couple times.
  • It was slightly interactive – like smoke for certain parts and dragons spraying out water.
  • The music. A traditional Vietnamese orchestra including a Dan bau, bamboo flutes, drums, and more plays as an accompaniment/accent to the show. There is also some Cheo – a type of opera singing.

People playing instruments

Quick Info

The only thing that got in the way for us was we couldn’t understand what the puppets were saying. Their “voice actors” spoke in Vietnamese. We didn’t mind because we were in Vietnam. But we do feel we might have missed a few things or could have learned more if it was in English or we knew Vietnamese. Still, with many parts the music, tone, and actions of the puppets helped communicate things to us.

Here is the info:

  • Address: 57B Dinh Tien Hoang – Hanoi – Vietnam
  • Cost: 100k dong (~$5)
  • Times: I see varying things online so I would just check in person. Show times are mostly in the afternoon/evening, I believe, though.
  • Website: www.thanglongwaterpuppet.org
  • Other info: Shows last for one hour.

Combine it with: Hoan Kiem Lake and Ngoc Son Temple, Hoa La Prison (the “Hanoi Hilton”), the Temple of Literature, the Museum of Vietnamese history, the Vietnamese women’s museum, the Hanoi Opera House, and more!

In front of HK Lake

And if you can’t make it here there are a few other opportunities (such as these) across Vietnam to see water puppet shows of varying sizes.

~B~

Family Friendly part of bangkok

Lumphini Park

I added Lumphini Park into our itinerary for the day we visited the Snake Farm (Kyle’s choice) and Wat Hua Lumphong because it was nearby, I wanted to go to a park, and most of all: I wanted to ride the duck pedal boats in the lake! The last time I rode a pedal boat was when I was a child visiting Germany (or maybe Austria) with my family (when we lived in Italy) and it was a lot of fun! I thought this would be a neat activity for us and it would only cost just over a dollar.

Duck boat

Entering Lumphini Park

After our long day which included the walk to the metro station, the ride there, the above activities, and various other little stops, we were pretty tired but I knew I would be upset if we didn’t go. 

Upon entering, we found that there were many people enjoying the park. Several thousand citizens were going about their days. We noticed that the park is a popular fitness place, with lots of people running around and others taking part in various group exercise/aerobics classes. There were also many families and individuals simply taking in the nature.

Runners in the park

At first we just plopped down in the grass and enjoyed the weather and people-watched for a bit.

Kyle in grass
Warm Bangkok Sun

After we had rested, we decided to go for a stroll.

Looking at lumphini lake

Look At The Lizards

The wildlife was quite active, with many birds, fish, and turtles going about their business. We had read that there were monitor lizards at the park, but we weren’t sure if we’d actually be able to see them – we found a couple early on swimming the lake and it was pretty neat.

Monitor Lizard at Lumphini Park

We proceeded on a bit afterwards, and even came across a collared cat. I don’t know whose cat it was, but most likely it was just someone’s indoor/outdoor cat that found a great place for a nap. We pictured his owners going for a run and seeing him sitting there and say ‘So, this is where you go during the day, Oscar.’

Cat Nap

Quick Swan Boat Ride

Finally, we located the swan-boat rental area. The cost is/was 40 baht for a half-hour ($1.13). Initially you must give 80 baht, but as long as you make it back in time, they’ll refund you 40 baht. We hopped into the boat and spent the next half hour puttering about the lake.

Park in BangkokOn Lumphini LakeKyle paddlingIn the boat

We also had a great skyline view in some areas.

Bangkok Skyline

Towards the end of our ride, we stumbled upon what is apparently the resting ground for the monitor lizards. We found dozens of them dozing in the late afternoon shade along the bank of the lake. They were actually pretty much everywhere, climbing onto boats, or where ever else they could find a quiet spot. We tried not to bother them, because it’s clear they just want to be left to themselves. They scare quite easily despite looking like dinosaurs.

Monitor Lizard

The sun began to go down as we left the boat, so we made our way back to the entrance. Luckily, there is a metro station not far from the entrance which makes it easy to access.

Sunset Reflections

More on the park:

The park was created in the 1920s by King Rama VI. Originally meant to be an exhibition center, it was converted into the first public park in the city after World War I. It was named after the birthplace of Buddha in Nepal. Today, a statue of the king greets you at the southeast entrance to the 142 acre park. 

You will find more than a park, though. Lumpini park is home to a library, an apprentice school, an Elder Citizens club, and more. If you can get to the park early, you’ll find tai chi classes offered. As well, there are various playgrounds for children. Between 10 and 3 you can also cycle for exercise.

If you want to visit, you can access it via MRT Subway Silom or Lumphini Station or BTS Saladaeng. The park is open from 4:30am to 9:00pm

All in all, it’s a great place to enjoy nature while you’re in a city of over 12 million people. 

~B+K~

 

Cat Decor in Bangkok

Caturday: Cat Cafe in Bangkok

Unlike most cities which tend to only have one, if any, cat cafes, Bangkok actually has a few cat cafes. While I was interested in several of them, Caturday is what worked out best for us due to its location. It was in walking distance from Siam Paragon and we already had other plans in that area (like developing film and the Hello Kitty House).

Caturday Cafe Sign

Wow It’s Popular

Boy is this a popular cat cafe! It was very crowded inside but they did not turn us away as they initially did at one of the cat cafes in Korea. The other thing I noticed immediately was the heavy theming. This place was cats, cats, cats!

Cat Decor

There were all kinds of cute cat decorations such as cat toys (not for cats- though there were those too!), paintings of cats, a big cat clock, cat merchandise, and more.

Polaroids with Cats

Obviously there were things for the cats to climb, sit on, and sleep in as well.

At the Cafe

Several cats had on cute outfits or accessories.

Cute Cat outfit
Fluffy KittyCute Kitty

We were seated at a table in the back near this cute Persian cuddled in a little kitty tent.

Me At Caturday
Cat TentFluffy White Cat

Great Menu Too!

We spent a little time perusing the menu before we decided on a drink and cheese fries. I think we were both technically supposed to order drinks but it was okay since we ordered fries too (I’m not sure). We were a little more hungry than thirsty and I have a fondness for cheese fries but there were lots of other meal, snack, and dessert options.

Caturday Menu Options
Silly Caturday Menu
Tea and Cheese Fries

I no longer remember the name of the drink we shared but it was very tasty and sat on a cute Caturday coaster! The fries were also good.

Caturday Cafe SignCute Yummy Drink

For the most point we just enjoyed watching the cats and petting the occasional one that wandered our way. Kitty snack time was crazy and also fun to watch with particular kitties trying to get it all. Others were being a little less sure of what to do when presented with it.

Crowded cat cafe

Overall it was a pretty nice time.

Cat Statues

~B~