Celebrating a Vietnamese London

By | Category: Travel destinations, Travel news

A Vietnamese sunset: Halong Bay

This weekend on the south bank in London there is a festival. No surprise you might think since events happen there all the time. What’s different is that this festival brings traditional Vietnamese water puppetry to the UK a rare opportunity to see something that very few Britons will have seen.

The reason why the puppetry is available and indeed the area is given over to Vietnamese culture and food is in celebration of forty years of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and ourselves.
Strange as it sounds, the puppetry goes back to the eleventh century when flooded rice paddies were used as an arena for puppet plays. One can only imagine who first thought of staging an event like this in a flooded field (maybe that’s how the inspiration for Glastonbury came about!) and why. Largely this tradition was unknown to all but the intrepid traveller and it wasn’t until the 1990’s – after the Vietnam war had long ended – that other parts of the world got to hear and see this unique (a much over-used word in travel but here, a genuine description of it) cultural heritage. Hanoi – the capital of Vietnam – has sent its famed Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre Company to us to introduce water puppetry to us.
But Vietnam Airlines, the sponsor of part of the festival which has been organised by the Vietnamese Culture and Arts Society, has also brought across the first ever UK exhibition of ancient ceramics from Bat Trang and Chu Dau, music and dance performers. In addition there will thirty stands with different Vietnamese foods for us to sample.
It is in the last few years that Vietnam has become a popular and growing market for UK and Irish holidaymakers seeking somewhere different. Vietnam delivers on that score as previous stories in CD-Traveller show. Now with direct flights to Hanoi, the country and the airline is hoping that more of us will plan our holidays there. To encourage that, visitors to the festival stand a chance of winning three holidays, each for two people, to the country.
Even despite the high airport passenger duty, flights to Vietnam can be cheaper than a flight to Florida and are on a par with prices to the west coast of the US. It cannot be long before the mainstream tour operators introduce Vietnam into their mainstream brochures.

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