Shadow Puppets

Siem Reap Travel Blog

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Traditional instruments
On our first night in Siem Riep we went to the Bayon restaurant. This was near to our hotel and, as Iain was very tired, we decided not to venture into town itself.  This turned out to be a really good idea, because randomly, we had turned up on the night when they have shadow theatre. 

The first sign of this was when traditional music started, and we realised it was live.  A small group of children and teenageers were swapping in and out of teh instruments and teaching each other pieces of melody.  Then the shadow puppet show started.  Realising that I am a very silly tourist whose grasp of Cambodian never extended past apologetically bowing when I wanted to say thank you, the waitress brought me over a photocopied sheet explaining the stories.
The two bad monkeys who had been fighting
  Iain decided he was too tired to watch, and I stayed and drank strong coffee and tried to figure out the story from the sheet.

In the first story, two monkeys were fighting.  A holy man told them off and made them behave.  I believe that they may have lived happily ever after.  I was very impressed with the fight scenes, considering that it must be pretty hard to have an action sequence involving shadow puppets without getting them tangled.

The second story was about two people who were gambling, and then they bet over whose buffalo was the best fighter.  One of the buffalos died and they were arrested and sent to jail.  Gambling is bad.

But the best story was the re-telling of the ancient Indian epic about Hannuman rescuing Sita.
Why you should not gamble with water buffalo
  Please, please forgive any mistakes I make either witht eh spelling or the plot - I loved this story, and if anyone wants to correct me I'll edit it. But fundamentally, Lord Rama and Lady Sita are sent into exile with Rama's brother.  Rama knows that Sita is beautiful and in danger, so makes his brother guard her.  But the brother was lured away by Ravanna the Demon King, who then lures Sita out of the magic circle of flame that the brother had made her to keep her safe.  He does this by turning into a deer.  There was a very clever special effect done by moving ravanna away from the screen and shaking him, and then someone ese runs in withthe deer. It was good. He then kidnaps Sita.  Distraught, Rama goes to Hanuman who is the commander of the monkey army.
Rama and Sita
  This appears to be a bit like getting Nato involved,  and Hannuman and hte monkey army go off to save Sita.  ANd their the shadow puppet show stopped, but I believe that Rama and Hannuman got her back and it was all OK in the end.  If anyone can confirm that/ explain why they were exiled in teh first place, that would be ace.

It was great to see the show for many reasons.  Firstly, it was very good and entertaining, even if I didn't understand everything that went on.  Secondly, it was a show so that children could be taught traditional arts and entertainment skills and have an audience - no one asked for any money for it either - and that must be a great thing to learn.  And thirdly, it refreshed my memory of Hindu mythology a little, hich was great for enjoying the carvings on Angkor Wat, some of whcih feature some of the same characters.

All in all, it was a great start to the stay in Siem Riep.  I wandered back to the guest house, trying not to fall in any pot holes, to find Iain. 
globalodyssey says:
nicely told
you can see it as shadow puppets or live dance in bali
enjoy the ride
Posted on: Oct 04, 2009
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Traditional instruments
Traditional instruments
The two bad monkeys who had been f…
The two bad monkeys who had been …
Why you should not gamble with wat…
Why you should not gamble with wa…
Rama and Sita
Rama and Sita
The deer that the Demon King turne…
The deer that the Demon King turn…
Hanuman and Rama
Hanuman and Rama
Rama and Hanuman
Rama and Hanuman
Our room
Our room
Siem Reap Hostels review
Home Sweet Home Guest House
We chose this guest house by the simple expedient of being too tired to argue when the tuktuk from the bus took us here, and it worked out very well. … read entire review
Siem Reap
photo by: genetravelling