Vietnamese Water Puppets!

Well anybody who visits Vietnam must see one thing in particular – the water puppet show! 

IMG_1347A little bit of history about the show. Water puppetry dates back to around the 11th century in Vietnam. It’s thought to have originated in Northern Vietnam in villages along the Red River Delta. The tradition started when rice paddy fields became flooded and villagers would produce their own entertainment.  The villagers would stand in waist-deep water with their puppets on long bamboo poles, performing shows to the rest of the village. Whilst puppetry may be a traditional art form in Asia, Vietnamese water puppetry is a unique version of it! 

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The show is, in my opinion, a definite must for all visitors to the country! Watching in English does have the downside of not understanding the musical lyrics, or the plot lines for the individual puppets, and going from the reaction of the local audience members, it seems that there are often jokes which you miss. But really, that doesn’t matter. Experience traditional Vietnamese music live is amazing and for the most part you can either guess what is going on in the show or it doesn’t really matter. You can simple sit back and enjoy a show totally unlike anything you have ever seen before! Even though this was my second time seeing the show I stilled loved every moment, and it’s definitely something that can appeal to all age groups. 
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“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” Marcel Proust

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And so the adventure began…

Once again I seem to have managed to get horrendously behind in my blog posts! And yet once again I have my excuses. Bad wifi connection in more hostels than I want to remember, a VPN that refused to work, TEFL paperwork to fill out, a dissertation to start reading for. But now that I have some additional free time and some of those excuses have been completed it’s time to start catching up! 

The adventure this year began in Hanoi, Vietnam! The journey over took around 24 hours and three flights, so by the end of it I was very glad to reach our first hotel. Once again I’ve gone through trusty Hostel World to find all my accommodation and once again things seem to have worked out pretty well. In Hanoi we stayed at ‘Hanoi Old Town Hotel’ which I would definitely recommend. Cheap, free breakfast, nice clean rooms, towels provided and really helpful staff, so overall a really good place to stay.

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Our first evening we simply went out for a quick meal and then all collapsed into bed – although with the six hour time difference from England we quickly found that sleep wasn’t as easy to get as we were hoping! 

 

 

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Our first full day in Hanoi began with a visit to see Hoan Kiem Lake, and the beautiful bridge there. We then walked around the lake up to Hoa Lo Prison. A tip for anyone visiting Hanoi, the tour books and websites all told us that the prison would be closed on a Monday. However, since Monday was our only day in Hanoi we decided to visit anyway to see if it was open by any chance – and it was! I can’t be sure that this means it’s always open on a Monday, but this does make me wary of information to do with opening times.

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Hoa Lo Prison, also known as the Hanoi Hilton is one of those places where it’s incredibly interesting to see, and yet you feel as though you shouldn’t enjoy seeing it. A piece of history that shows the terrible way that the locals were treated by the French. There are signs there in English which is helpful for learning about the history, although of course these do present a very Vietnamese view of events and act as political propaganda. But it’s definitely a site I think everyone should see whilst in the city.

Our next stop of the day was to the Temple of Literature. This is a gorgeous Temple of Confucius built in 1070, and became Vietnam’s first national university. It’s a beautiful building to walk around and the history of the site is amazing to me.

IMG_1256I was last in Vietnam with my family when I was 17 years old. This temple is one of the things that I remember most clearly from my visit then and going back them reminded me exactly why that is. Maybe I simply like Temples, maybe there’s something about it being a Temple of Literature specifically that interests me. Whatever it is, I know that this is one of the first places I will always think of when I think about Vietnam! 

“Traveling isn’t something you’re good at. It’s something you do. Like breathing.” Gayle Foreman

Summer travels 2016

Oh dear, my attempt to ‘brush off the cobwebs’ didn’t go very well! In my defence, university and exams essentially dominated my life for the last few months and so everything else had to wait its turn. Unfortunately, this did mean that I didn’t ever write about my trip to Italy in Easter. After up to eight hours of walking around studying historical sites and museums each day, returning home to cook dinner, write up my notes, work on my essay, and attempting some revision, blogging was honestly the last thing on my mind.

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Maybe at some point i’ll catch up with my Italy trip!?

But now it’s the summer! Which means that whilst I will still be busy, I should (crossed fingers) be able to write far more than I have previously. At least that’s the plan…

Summer travels begin this year on Saturday. Well, to be precise, they begin at 3:05 pm when my plane leaves English soil (hopefully!) First I’ll be flying to Vietnam, which I will be exploring with three university friends. We will be visiting Hanoi, Hue, Danang, Hoi An, Nha Trang, and Ho Chi Minh, as well as a trip to Ha Long Bay. We will then be travelling into Cambodia and are visiting Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Sadly, that’s where I have to cut short travels with my friends and won’t be seeing the rest of Cambodia or Thailand. On the other hand, I am flying over to Shanghai to work as an English teacher for around two months so I think that that can be forgiven! And besides, I’m determined to explore Asia again soon.

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My summer travels…

As for China, my travel plans still really remain a mystery. As I said I’m working in Shanghai for two months, and at the end of the trip I know that i’ll be spending about five days in Yangshuo which I am so excited about it’s kind of absurd. I’ll be flying back from Hong Kong and thanks to some very generous family friends who have offered me their spare bedroom, it looks like i’ll be exploring the city for about a week! But the rest of my time in China is still waiting to be organised.

In all honesty, i’m not sure how much time i’ll have to do my blog whilst I’m out there as  I am technically working, but I’m determined to do as much as I can. So stay tuned and even if I don’t write much, my instagram will always have new things to see!

“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” –  Terry Pratchet