Our Emotional First Footsteps in Vietnam

As we approached our first port in Vietnam, we had the most fantastic sail-in through the Gulf of Tonkin from about noon until we anchored around 2. The Ship had prepared a BBQ buffet on the Pool Deck so we could watch the scenery as we navigated through to Ha Long Bay (Hanoi), consisting of almost 2,000 magnificent islands of jagged limestone.

The area was designated a World Heritage site in 1994. It was truly breathtaking.
As we were sailing in, we saw many small white boats heading out of the harbor, dozens and dozens of them. We subsequently learned that these “junks” were taking tourists out through the islands.

Tonight we had a light dinner in our apartment as we are headed onshore at 8 pm for a Water Puppet Show. This is for sure the first time we left the Ship at 8 pm. Not our usual time for an excursion, particularly a Water Puppet Show!!
We must say, our first footsteps in Vietnam were not without emotion for both of us. The Vietnam War was a significant part of our lives when we were young adults. We both know many people who served, and some who lost their lives. It was such a terrible time in U.S. history as there was such anger over a meaningless war. Emotions ran high and we still remember how poorly the veterans were treated when they returned home. We sincerely thank all those who have served our country!
This ancient art of water puppetry dates back to the 10th century and was first performed in the rice paddies. Water puppetry today is performed in a chest-deep pool of water with the surface of the water serving as the stage. The puppeteers stand behind a curtained backdrop and maneuver their puppets with long sticks. As the left hand holds the stick, the right hand manages the strings that control movements of the puppet’s moving parts.
There was both an instrumental and vocal accompaniment to approximately 20 small skits which included dancing fairies to two dragons chasing a colorful ball; a farmer and his wife plowing the rice paddy while the children planted the rice; and a fox chasing some ducks being defended by their owners.

It was fun, lively and entertaining. It was organized by the Ship as a private show and was attended by about 30 Residents. It was approximately an hour so we were back in our apartment by 10:30 and had a wonderful time. Well worth the late night venture ashore!

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