Vietnam Series: Ho Chi Minh City for a pedicure/manicure/massage and the Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theatre

Water Puppet Theatre Stage

Water Puppet Theatre Stage

I am enjoying my second day in the largest city in Vietnam.  I am in bustling Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) and have decided that today will be a pamper day before heading off to the Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theatre tonight. 

Yep… today I am going in search of the big three: pedicure, manicure and massage.

There are plenty of options for ladies to beautify in this busy tourist area around De Tham (Street/Road) and I quickly accumulate several pamphlets confirming an abundance of beauty establishments.

My dilemma now is how to decide which is a good, reputable salon where I won’t end up worse than when I started… doesn’t sound too difficult? 

I make my decision on which shop to choose based on its appearance (quite ironic).  I am also relying today on gut feel and wishful thinking.  With my decision made, into the shop I go… and out of the shop I eventually come… happy to report that all went without incident.  I am fairly confident I don’t need to be concerned about any surprise hand or foot infections. 

The massage on the other hand was not so successful… throughout the massage I was mostly preoccupied with trying to keep an eye on my bag which held my passport.  I had to dump my bag under the massage table and it was therefore out of sight.  For the next 40 minutes there I lay on the massage table feeling nervous and stressy, no matter how gently the lady massaged me.

Afterwards I seek out a caffeine buzz and a bite to eat before catching an afternoon movie.

For the evening’s entertainment, I have bought a ticket for the water puppet theatre which is like regular theatre but with puppets… and water…obviously.  I need to make my way over to the Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theatre by 6:30pm.  

A motorbike taxi (xe ôm) rank is located virtually at the hotel door.  These motorbike taxi ranks are often disguised as a bunch of locals gathered on the street.  Fortunately, they usually manage to find me rather than me find them.  This is the easiest option for my short trip to the Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theatre.

As usual, I negotiate a fee before getting on the motorbike and ask if it is ok to hold onto him.  The ride over to the theatre doesn’t take long and the driver is very…umm… creative in the thick traffic. Credit where credit is due, I wouldn’t normally opt to use the footpath as a cut through but there was a bit of traffic and nobody seemed to notice.

I arrive at the Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theatre where people are already gathering. It is a Friday night and I am pleased I booked my ticket yesterday, which can be wise to do given its popularity.  Everybody is super excited.

Up front, instead of a traditional raised theatre stage, a pool of waist deep milky water sits, contained within a 6 metre wide rectangular basin.  This pool effectively forms the stage where the puppets perform.  At the rear is a red temple facade backdrop/screen behind which all the magic is orchestrated. 

Ok, want to know how it works?  Hidden by the screen, the puppeteers use large rods to support and control the puppets from beneath the water.  This gives the illusion of the puppets appearing to move over the water…so clever.  To the left and right of the stage are positioned several musicians and a narrator.



The water puppet show begins and the story unfolds, using clever storytelling through the puppets, the puppets dance and swish through and around the water, all accompanied by traditional music and songs. 

During the show

During the show

The show is all in Vietnamese and I don’t understand a word but I can still follow the story and thoroughly enjoy it.  I find the show to be very funny, despite the language barrier, as the characters and actions of the puppets allow you to understand. 



I leave the theatre with a big grin, having really enjoyed the performance, probably more than I actually expected to and for this reason would absolutely recommend it for any age. 

Back near my hotel I finish my pamper day with a supper/dessert of banana pancakes and one last local coffee.   Tomorrow is an early start as I head of on a booked excursion to the Mekong Delta. [showmyads]

For previous Vietnam post see Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and its museums
For next Vietnam post see Mekong Delta, Vietnam exploring the tributaries and canals around My Tho, Ben Tre and Can Tho