Another English girl, Tara, had arrived the day before and we both wanted to go to the Water Puppets so I headed over early doors and got two tickets for the 4pm performance. We splashed the cash and went for “deluxe” seats at 40,000d as opposed to the cheap ones at 20,000. While I was out, I had a wander round and got some fruit as I’ve not been eating enough.
Stopping a girl passing me by near the hostel I managed to get a small bag of pineapple for 3000d, which isn’t bad. I also wanted to try some rambutan, which seems to have come into season, and I had no shortage of women trying to rip me off for the things around the lake area. If you’re ever here, watch these women carefully as they get very nasty about bartering – and spend the time looking over your and their shoulders. None of them, I think, have permits to sell on the street, or at least not in that area. They know it’s lucrative as it’s full of tourists, but I have a feeling they’re not allowed to be there.
I finally gave up and paid 40,000d for a bag, and I actually had to stop her stuffing more in. Realistically, I think I should have paid nearer 10,000 but I only really intented to try them once. But they’re nice so I may have some more!
The afternoon was just a complete chill out. Eamonn and I went to the Pho Place – he liked it as well – and I ploughed through a fair bit of my book. Tara made good use of my laptop to get her blog up to date which forced me to be sociable for once.
3:30 arrived, and we set off for the Water Puppet show with Eamonn in tow on the offchance they still had tickets. Fortunately, they did so all three of us headed in. I was charged an extra 15,000d to take pictures (it’s an additional 60,000d to take a video camera in) and we each grabbed a free paper fan. Even with the aircon, these were needed!
As I’d got our tickets early, Tara and I were sat in the centre of the second row which made for some decent pictures. It was a little dark, so I ended up binning quite a few as they were blurred but some have come out a treat.
The performance began with a 10-minute instrumental by a traditional Vietnamese band, including a woman playing the Dan bau. It’s a great instrument which makes a pretty unique sound, and to see it played by an expert is quite something.
The puppets themselves were very impressive, but the show itself lost a fair bit in translation – mainly as there wasn’t one. It was easy to appreciate the skill with which the puppets are made and operated, but as the entire show was in Vietnamese it was difficult to follow any kind of story. I’m still not sure if it was one long tale split into acts or several small vignettes. Nevertheless, I am still puzzling over how they got some of the puppets to “dance” the way they did! If you ever get a chance to catch one of these shows, I do recommend it. It’s only an hour and not expensive for something uniquely Vietnamese.
After the show, we popped into the City View so Tara and Eamonn could traffic-watch and take photos. I managed to get some good ones myself with my funky new tripod. Next, we headed to Pepperoni’s for dinner. A medium pizza is 60,000d. The eat-all-you-can buffet (which includes three types of pizza including margherita) is 55,000d. No more thought necessary. I made my way through a litre of Anchor, two pizzas, a mound of salad and some fruit for dessert. I only finished eating as everyone else was waiting for me.
Tara was supposed to be going to the cinema, but between her and the other group they had pretty much seen everything that was on. I’m in the same situation right now. Besides the DVDs in the shops are substantially cheaper, if somewhat less kosher. Instead, we walked the entire length of the weekend night market. Tara was in search of sugared raspberries, Eamonn a chance to use the “night mode” on his camera to take really blurred pictures, and I for something to keep me cool. The day had been a scorcher until the cloud cover arrived as night fell. As a result, walking around was like wading through hot mist.