Water Puppet Show (Group 4)

The Water Puppet Show of Vietnam dates back to the 11th Century, in the delta of the Red River in the North. The Vietnamese farmers from back then believed that spirits controlled all aspects of life, and to please the spirits (as well as to entertain themselves), they devised a method in which they used natural materials in flooded rice paddies to perform Water Puppetry.

It is performed in a pool of water chest-deep, with the water surface as the stage (the performers are hidden behind curtains). They used rods weighing up to 15kg to control the puppets. Performances are usually about day-to-day village life, including children's games, farming and buffalo-fighting, as well as legends and national history. A small orchestra usually accompanies them by playing live music.

There are currently four troupes in Hanoi.

When the performance started, the lights were dimmed, and two mythical creatures representing the ancestors of the Vietnamese people appeared and danced. An egg was born, and from it, 100 people were hatched. They formed the Vietnamese civilisation, and Vietnamese culture was born.

Throughout the performance, scenes of Vietnamese culture and traditions were presented, along with music from the orchestra. Tales were told of how boys played the pan-flute to tell their lovers of their heartfelt feelings, and how girls decorated fans to express their love to their lovers. An echo of Indian tradition was introduced, as well as a history of Vietnam and its ethnic groups, as puppets danced in the water.

At the end, live actors appeared from behind the curtains, giving a performance of their own, holding flowers and controlling puppets before the public.


  1. We took a plane to Hanoi from the Singapore airport, The space of the aircraft is a little squeezy but it is manageable. Although we arranged that we would change seats, but we didn't because the passageways are quite tight. I also did not go to the toilet, as the way is a little blocked. When we alight, it took a very long time for all the baggage to come out, as there might be a lot of passengers on board. After waiting for 30 mins, the baggage finally arrives and we are good to go. We waked quite a distance to the bus and Place our luggage. When boarding the bus, I just found out that the driving Wheel is at the opposite site.
    I learn that there are very less combine harvester around the farming area, they work by hand.
    I can understand that life is very hard and all rewards do not come easily,
    We must put all our efforts into having good attitude as our attitude represents our school in public. If we are all well behaved, our school will be put as a modal school.

  2. Reflections for Day 1 in Hanoi GCP

    Today was the first day of GCP Hanoi and I was very excited to go on a GCP trip to Hanoi, In terms or behaviour and conduct I do not think I did well today. From morning to noon I was on the airplane flying from Singapore to Hanoi then when I reached Hanoi Mr Koh asked everyone to inform our parents that we are doing well and what our room number is so they can call us at night. I forgotten to send my parents the email and I made them worry, I feel very sorry that I made them worry and in the near future I will inform them about my well doings. During the water puppet show I should have not hold my wallet in my hand resulting in me dropping it and losing it. I feel very sorry for being very irresponsible as i just ran into the empty theater to look for my wallet without informing any teacher.
    I am also very grateful for the teacher from Clementi Town Secondary School for finding my wallet and returning it to me. Last of all today i have learnt about some of the Vietnam culture about the water puppet show which shows some of the events that happened long ago in Vietnam history. I also learnt to be more responsible for my personal belongings and be responsible to tell my teachers about where i am going and also to always go with my group to everywhere and be less careless.

  3. Today, we met up at the airport to go to hanoi. After a 3 hour journey there, we check in to our hotel where we unpack our things and relax after the journey for 2 hours. We had to meet up at the lobby to gather and eventually, we went of dinner. We went for a water puppet show after dinner and debrief at the cafeteria in the hotel.
    I learnt that the vietnamese culture is very important to Vietnam and has been there for a very long time and we should respect their culture. I can apply this to my life as different countries has different cultures and if we are ever in a unfamiliar country, we should follow their culture instead of frowning upon it.
    Attitude is very important as with the wrong attitude we could end up endangering ourselves, friends or loved ones. With the right attitude, we can get things done faster and safer.

  4. I have learnt that I lack punctuality and am irresponsible in some situations. I reached the Changi Airport Terminal 2 late by 20 minutes. After reaching the Airport at Hanoi, I was irresponsible after clearing the Immigration, wandering off to the Baggage Claim by myself. I am sorry for making the teachers’ work more difficult due to my actions. I am expecting to improve for the better tomorrow.
    After reaching the hotel, I entered my Room and settled down. However, losing my sense of safety, I forgot to lock my hotel room, causing more problems for the Teachers’-In-Charge. I have realized the consequences of my actions if it was not Mr Koh opening the door of my Room. In the evening, I had my dinner at The First Restaurant with my GCP mates. After that, we went for the Puppet show. It started out by farmers when their villages were flooded. Based on what I have learnt today, they can be applied to my daily life, improving on my weaknesses.

  5. Today, at the start of the morning, we all assembled and met at Changi Airport, Terminal 2, awaiting our departure. I was there about half an hour earlier because i was afraid to be late though there were a few that were late at meeting the time. After we departed and arrived on Hanoi, Vietnam, we travelled to our hotel and got our rooms. I had sent an e-mail to my mother to assure her that i was alright. After all that, at around 6, we left for dinner at the First Restaurant where we were served numerous dishes. Right after dinner, we left to watch the Water Puppet show. I had learned that Hanoi had a long history and vibrant culture through the Water Puppet show. Through the entire day, not everyone was cooperative every time. I don’t think its that hard to get to the airport on time, you just have to plan well, and either do i think that its that difficult to stay in our groups.

  6. Today, we arrived at Hanoi. Firstly, we had an approximately 1 hour journey to the hotel. The hotel was a small building, but it was quite nice on the outside and the inside. Secondly, we went to a restaurant with the unique name of ‘The First Restaurant’. We were served a wide variety of food. Thirdly, we went to watch the water puppet show. We learnt about some of the vietnamese cultural. For example, in the past, men use pan-pipes to court their sweethearts and women use fans instead. At the end of the day, we did some reflections on what we did wrong. For example, some of us were very noisy in the hotel as we were stomping and slamming doors, being inconsiderate to other residents staying at the hotel. Some of us also did not contact our parents causing them to be very worried. I think we should be more aware of our surroundings to make sure everyone around us will not be worried or harmed.

  7. Today we departed from the Republic of Singapore on SQ 176 to Hanoi, Vietnam. Though it did take some time to get our luggage we did eventually. The bus ride to the hotel was around half an hour but we did get a lot of information from our tour guide on the way. We have 4 hours of free time in the hotel (pretty much doing nothing productive). After that we went to some restaurant to eat dinner, and it had a lot of Chinese food (though still very enjoyable). The main event was the water puppet show which lasted an hour. Hanoi (or Vietnam in general) has a culture similar to that of Chinese culture, in terms of tradition and foods. It’s always good to explore new culture and learn different traditions around the world. Finally I do believe that in a country such as this we do need to be responsible and situationally aware of our surroundings in order to not get into trouble or cause anything that might be of inconvenience to others.

  8. Reflections for GCP Hanoi Day 1

    I felt that I should have actually be situationally aware of what I am doing so that I can actually be more responsible of my actions and what I am doing. Through doing this I will get more aware of my situation and do according to what is happening.
    What we did today

    We first boarded our flight in Singapore and some people were not punctual for the flight when we were actually suppose to meet at the airport at 7 am. Then, in Hanoi airport some people went to the wrong baggage belt to search for their baggage. Then, when we went back to the hotel and were given 4 hours to refresh ourselves but some people just made a fool of themselves by running in and out of their rooms and making unnecessary noise. Then we went to see the water puppet show after having our dinner at a very rich vietnamese restaurant. After the puppet show some people went on their own ways without even telling the teachers.
    What I learnt about the Water Puppet Show

    Water puppetry is a tradition that dates back as far as the 11th century CE when it originated in the villages of the Red River Delta area of northern Vietnam. Today's Vietnamese water puppetry is a unique variation on the ancient Asian puppet tradition.[The puppets are made out of wood and then lacquered. The shows are performed in a waist-deep pool. A large rod supports the puppet under the water and is used by the puppeteers, who are normally hidden behind a screen, to control them. Thus the puppets appear to be moving over the water. When the rice fields would flood, the villagers would entertain each other using this form of puppet play.

    What I am expecting of myself Tmr

    I except myself to be more disciplined tmr and more organised and more aware of my surroundings. This will lead me to be a more "good boy" and a more disciplined boy.

  9. Reflections(5th November 2012)

    Today was the first day of our Global Citizenship Program in Hanoi. It was the day where we flew from Singapore to Hanoi, Vietnam. However some mistakes were made during this journey from Singapore to Hanoi. Especially when one of my team members was late for checking in at the Airport. The flight was rather normal like many other flights. After arriving in Hanoi and at the hotel and got our rooms. We then had a lot of time to get ready for that night ad send messages to our parents and other family members. By about 6 we went to a restaurant to have our dinner where we served numerous dishes. In my opinion the meal was actually above average and was well done. We then left to watch the water puppet show which was an hour long, from there we learned about Hanoi's long history and culture through the puppets itself. However, not everyone was cooperative and that night we had to talk and for quite some time about the mistakes we have done and were told to reflect on them.

  10. Today , we touched down at Hanoi at about noon local time. Aft we disembarked the plane, the teachers lead us to the immigrations, where we got our passports stamped. Afterwards, we headed towards the baggage collection area but at first we headed to the wrong place and we found out that Issac was missing. It ended up that he was at another collection area, which was the correct one. Afterwards, we headed to the hotel where we had about 3 hours of rest. After the needed rest, we headed off to have dinner and went to the water puppet show and at the show, I was very tired after the lights were dimmed and I struggled to stay awake and a short while later, I fell asleep. I felt that I should not have done that as it would be a disrespect to the performers who did their very best to perform and practice as well. Overall, I feel that as representatives of the school, we fared very badly today in terms of attitude and logic thinking. I hope that we will all be able to improve tommorow.

  11. Today we boarded the plane flight SQ176 to Hanoi. The service on the plane was excellent, and the air steward(ess)es were polite and provided good service and I had fun with the KrisWorld in-flight entertainment system. I watched a movie and played a few games, although some games were unplayable. After we touched down, it was a 50-minute ride by bus to the to the Paloma hotel, and the guides Peter and Mr Ha were friendly and provided tons of information of Hanoi during the bus ride. We were given 3-4 hours to settle in and explore the place. My roommate and I got a room on the 5th floor, the highest floor for us. After that, we had dinner at The First Restaurant, again with our guides. The food was great, and after that we went to the Water Puppet Theatre, to watch a water puppet show. The show was enjoyable, albeit long, and I learnt about the lifestyle of the people of Vietnam in the past, the culture of Vietnam, and a few legends of Vietnam. There was one legend which said that the ancestors of Vietnam laid an egg, and in that egg there were 100 eggs, which were the descendants. The moral was that the citizens of Vietnam are of the same origin, and are all equal. At the end of the day, we did a few reflections on our behaviour. Some of us were inconsiderate and created a racket in the hotel, and that we should be more quiet. Some of us were also not really cooperative, and did not listen to the teachers. We should improve on this to create a better learning experience.

  12. Today is the first day of our GCP camp. Most of us were very excited, and did not follow the rules entirely. the day was eventful and humorous. The tour guide gave us a lot of information about the cultures here in Hanoi. The food served was delicious and scrumptious. The water puppet show was unique and very different from usual entertainment. I hope that tomorrow we may be more responsible and more situationaly aware.

  13. Today was a relatively good day for me. In the morning we took off to Hanoi, and our flight went pretty smoothly. The air stewards and stewardesses were very friendly and kind and even shoed me the way to the toilet. At first I was pretty worried because I’ve never been to Hanoi or other part of Vietnam before.

    But once I got there everything went so quickly that I forgot my worries. We got to Hanoi and went to our hotel, rested for a while, and went for dinner. The bus ride to our destination was smooth and the tour guide was very nice. Dinner was very yummy and I enjoyed the Vietnamese food there. It was the first time I ever ate Vietnamese food so I was pretty excited how it tasted like.

    Then we went to watch the Water Puppet Show, which was very interesting and I could see how much effort was put in to make the show possible. It was a spectacular performance with many colors and interesting puppets.

    The only problem was getting the group together. As a group leader I had to gather my group members together, but sometimes some people would go missing and it would be hard to find them. And there were also times when we were irresponsibe and made the teachers angry at us. We felt regretful for our actions. We should learn how to be more responsible and have the right attitude, which is very important for this trip.

  14. At first, I was nervous about this trip to Hanoi as this was the first trip I had been on without my parents and I was afraid that I would lose my belongings. I felt more secure when I reached the hotel. The dinner was quite nice and was very filling we kept teasing my friend as he was trying to finish his tea. At the water puppet theatre it was packed to the brim. There were a few tourist couples finding their seats having a staff member direct them to return to their rightful seats. I did not really understand the show but it was still interesting and I could tell they really put in massive amounts of effort to put on the show. I observed certain schoolmates losing focus as it was not entertaining to them. However as the person taking photographs of the performance for my group I could not slack, lest I miss out a good photo opportunity. It is getting late as I write this and I have yet to wish my parents goodnight. I am excited in anticipation of tomorrow and I am sure it will be as interesting as today.

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  16. Day 1, 5th Nov 2012, GCP Hanoi

    Today we have arrived in Hanoi, making this the second time past Malaysia, the first time being Thailand. In Hanoi, I realised that the immigration system is not as efficient as Singapore's immigration system, making me thankful for my own country's efficiency.

    After the landing, we took a 45-minute but ride to Paloma Hotel and seen the not densely developed land of Hanoi and took a few photos before reaching the hotel which we then checked in, and began unpacking luggage.

    After the unpacking, it was late, so we met in the lobby area of Paloma Hotel and waited for the bus.
    It was going to take us to dinner, which was called "The First Restaurant." Had a good meal there and left being satisfied. Following up, the last item on the itinerary was "Water puppet show" which will be described in the next paragraph.

    Upon reaching the exterior of the building, we had to wait a while for an audience from the previous show to leave before entering. In the theater, there was a pool of water at where the stage used to be. This was where the puppets were going to appear. The event started with the reason of why water puppets came about and how they were invented. Then it proceeded on to have a vivid illustration of uses of Vietnam tools like fans and pan-pipes. It ended with the crew coming out of the curtains, knee-deep in water and waving their puppets around in the water. After that we retreated back to the hotel to where I am now, typing this reflection.


    Sorry for late submission. The internet was jammed up and I could not get into google so I typed it in Textedit and then copy pasted it here.

  17. I feel that today is a disaster as we were not used to the life in Hanoi than in Singapore. For example, before dinner, we slammed the doors as the doors were hard to push in. Then, there was noise generated as we started going to our friends’ rooms. Next, we went to eat dinner of three pots of rice on my table and a lot of other dishes like sharks’ fin soup.
    Next, we went to see the water puppet show where there are a lot of exciting sound effects, like during impressive parts. I was amazed by how the puppets can be controlled from under the water. After the performance, however, I feel remorseful for giving the wrong advice to someone who lost his wallet. I went to tell him to go back to the theatre to get his wallet, but in the end, he was out to the bus late.

    The KrisFlyer Entertainment system was not very good as the games cannot be played such that I could only watch the movies. The food onboard was delicious, though.

  18. My reflections on Day 1 Hanoi

    Today, I was pretty nervous about this trip to Hanoi. I feared that I would lose my passport, my wallet, or my belongings. I overcame that fear when I reached the hotel and settled down. I did not expect the air to be hazy and polluted, but I managed. When we reached the hotel, it blew me away. I did not expect to see a nicely furnished and decorated hotel lobby and room. Even though my room is a bit small, it is still okay. We had dinner I presume at a famous restaurant. The food was similar to a typical Singapore coffee shop, but slightly more delicious. I enjoyed the dishes served and it was satisfying. We left the restaurant and headed for a water puppet theatre. The bus that took us there stopped in the middle of the road because other coach buses were parked out on the road. I was worried about this because it was not safe to cross the road, especially when thousands of motorcycles are trying to cross the road too. The theatre was congested. I observed some tourist couples trying to get a seat but a staff member instructed them to return to their rightful seats that were busy and taken up. They should improve their management by upgrading their seating arrangement. It is really late doing this reflection and I am quite tired. I feel that tomorrow would be another great adventure ahead and I am looking forward to it.

  19. From today, I felt that my behaviour was generally not so good, and I should be more responsible, respectful and should be more aware of my surroundings. Even with this problem, I still learnt about the Vietnamese culture through the stories conveyed during the Water Puppet Show. It was interesting, with a authentic Chinese-like orchestra playing the background music. I also have a better understanding of Vietnam through the mini-bus tour that the guide gave us, and more facts on Vietnam that makes it special. I also observed and got a brief idea on how the Vietnamese people lived daily, through the various places I saw while on the bus. I hope that I would learnt to be more mature in the following days and be able to help others when possible. I also hope to learn more on the Vietnamese people and their beloved country that has many places that are very attractive.

  20. Day 1, November 5th 2012,

    Today , I , along with the rest of the students and teachers , landed in Hanoi and watched the Water Puppet Show . This was very little compared to what I had expected to do today. Although what we have done today is very little, I felt that what we have learned today during the debrief in the cafeteria is vital to the rest of the GCP trip.

    The plane trip was nothing really special , though it was quite disappointed that I could not finish the movie that I had watched .

    In my opinion , the dinner that was served today was not that good. Take note that this is just my opinion.

    During the Water Puppet Show , I learned what the Vietnamese had done during the 11th century. Fishing , courting with umbrellas and pipe and what their various actions then could have meant. Though this is not a deep understanding, I hope that the rest of the trip here can help me grasp a deeper understanding of the Vietnamese culture.

    What we had been talked to about during the debrief is indeed important. One of the key factors that will lead to all of us learning more is responsibility. Without responsibility, there might a good chance that all of us may not learn anything at all. So , I will do things more responsibly in order to benefit myself, my group and the whole GCP team.


  21. Today we went to watch the Vietnamese Water Puppet Show. It was really interesting. They used puppetry to express and to let people know more about their culture. I’ve learnt alot about Vietnamese culture. For example, the pan-pipe and the umbrellas that people use for courtship. Yesterday, we didn’t behave very well. After the show ended, we came out of the theatre and somebody found out that he has lost his wallet. He told his friend and the friend told him to quickly run back to the theatre to get his wallet. Luckily, Ms Kaur saw him or else we might have left without him. The teacher from another school found his wallet and returned it to him. I think that he shouldn’t have done that and his friend should not have told him to run back to get his wallet back. Both of them should have told the teacher and the teacher would have went with him to get his wallet back. Some students were also not punctual. When standing at the side of the road, some students continuously stood very near the road even though the teacher had warned them not to. I think the students should have self-discipline and be responsible for their own safety.

  22. After landing in Hanoi for the 2nd time and having a 4 hour break in our Hotel, we went for dinner at the ‘The First Restaurant’. I didn’t like the surroundings of the restaurant as it was pretty dirty since it was near a dump. The food served was okay, not that bad.

    Outside the Theatre, some of us crossed to the other path without looking at our surroundings. Moreover, it was unorganised when we reached the other side of the road. Some students were on the road, this I thought it was intolerable if I were any of the teachers. The students may have been hit by a motorcycle or even obstruct the tour buses that were waiting to alight other tourists. I felt that this act was selfish, it was not only causing harm to others but yourself too, as teachers usually say, ‘Do no harm to yourself, do no harm to the school, do no harm to others.’

    The water puppet was boring since I had watched the same show before, so I didn’t see much of the show.

    Someone lost his wallet at the end of the show, and rushed back to the empty theatre without telling any of the teachers. Fortunately, a teacher from CTS found his wallet and returned to him. One of the teachers caught him running back into the theatre stopped him. In an empty theatre, he could have got lost or get molested in a quiet area like that.

    “Man must cease attributing his problems to his environment, and learn again to exercise his will – his personal responsibility.”
    Albert Einstein

  23. The water puppet show was a form of entertainment which taught us about the Vietnamese History. It was very engaging as it was not very predictable. This made us very eager to see what was going to happen next. We were given an introduction on each of the scenes. This enabled us to understand what was going on without much difficulty.

  24. Today our group met up at the airport to go to Hanoi. Then we checked in went to board the plane. After a 3 hour and a short trip by bus, we finally reached and checked in to our hotel where we unpack our things and relax for a little bit after the exhausting journey for about 2 hours. We later had to meet up at the lobby to gather and later went out of dinner. We went for a water puppet show after dinner which was very entertaining as it showed me the traditions and beliefs of Vietnam, and I was surprised how some of the actors lifted a puppet which weighed 15 kg! Later wen went back to the hotel for a debrief in which Mr Koh and teachers and also our L3 leaders told us some areas we needed to improve like punctuality to talk less. Overall today was a good day as we learnt so much about Vietnam in such a short time and also to respect Singapore for what we have and not take advantage of it.