Alrighty…I started out the morning by packing and checking out of my room, before hustling on over to the Water Puppet theatre to see a performance. It was incredible!! The performance was just under 1 hour long and was comprised of maybe 15 vignettes. A traditional Vietnamese orchestra accompanied them and provided the voices. The puppets themselves were great and could do so much! The amazing part is that you never really saw any of the means by which they were operated. The water was pretty murky (on purpose) and I could occasionally see a long bamboo pole underneath attaching to the puppets, but that doesn’t explain all the various movements they could do! They could do nearly everything. Some moved their arms, others opened their mouths (and squirted water or fireworks from them), and all done by a seemingly unseen means. It was so cool! We did finally see the puppeteers at the end…they raised up the curtain in the last act to show them…they stand waist deep in the water and operate the puppets from quite a distance back. I can’t begin to emphasize what a neat experience it was!
Afterwards I killed some time by walking around the Old Quarter some more. After lunch I visited the Museum of the Vietnamese Revolution. As the name suggests, the bulk of it was about the rebellion against the French, basically tracing revolutionary activities from the start of colonialism in the 1800’s. However, it did not end with the battle at Dien Bein Phu in 1954…it continued on till 1975 and the end of the “American War.” In both sections, there were some pretty terrible images. One was an image of French punishment on revolutionaries and had a man who had been hung and had his arm chopped off and tied around his neck. Some of the other really terrible ones were atrocities committed by the American military. Images included large sections of the city bombed, including hospitals. Also there were images of cartloads of civilians and children killed in American attacks. It was rather disturbing, but interesting to see the war through their perspective…what is most certainly a more realistic view of what happened. I should add that on display was a guillotine that the French had put to good use as well.
Afterwards I headed across to the National History Museum that was pretty neat. It contained many artifacts (archeological) that traced Vietnam’s long history. There was some really nice stuff.
Anyways, the rest of the day wasn’t too eventful and now I need to head to the train station. In an hour I will be on my way to Lao Cai on the Chinese border, and then in the morning I’m off from there to Sapa.