Friday, July 6, 2012

Dragon Boat Racing

Dragon Boat Festival is a national holiday in China, I even got a day off work without having to make it up. The holiday's origins rest with a poet who killed himself years ago. If you're interested to know the details click here. Otherwise, read on for enough information to pretend like you know something.

They call her "Master"

They call her "Meeps"

Before we get too detailed, I'd like to take a quick moment from you - my little sister is also living abroad and blogging. She is currently vacationing working on a hobby farm in Scotland, a decidedly less comfortable life than that of corporate expats. If you can't get enough Gerke, click here or see the link we added to the right side of this page. She's pretty funny, but probably not as funny as me.

Dragon Boat Festival (Duanwu in "pinyin") is a holiday to remember the death of Qu Yuan. He was a former government official a poet, who killed himself after his state was conquered by a rival state in 278 BC

At the starting line, staging the race.
Qu drowned himself in a river. Legend says that people wrapped rice in bamboo leaves and dropped the packets into the water. Depending on who you believe, the leaf was either to prevent fish from eating the rice before Qu could, or to distract the fish from eating his body. The same people are said to have paddled on the river, beating the water with their paddles to scare the fish away.

Sticky rice wrapped in bamboo leaves is called zongzi. Today people eat zongzi to celebrate this festival like Germans drink beer to celebrate Tuesday. Often the rice is mixed with meat or beans, we have three in the fridge right now but haven't tried them yet.

Dragon boat racing is a major sport in many parts of Asia, and it said to have originated from the day those people paddled out to save Qu. Suzhou hosted some racing on Jin Ji Lake, Shayne and I went to check it out.

The weather was terrible, with heavy rain. We counted that as a good thing because it helped minimize the crowd. However, I've now decided the only way to make a crowd more annoying is to hand everyone umbrellas and tell them to mingle.

The gauntlet

Shayne's friend participated this year on "Team Tai-Tai." We got to watch her team finish third in the qualifying round, which got them a spot in the final.

Team Tai Tai digging deep
Unfortunately, we couldn't stick around for the final. I say it was unfortunate, because Team Tai Tai finished in the money at second place and donated the winnings to charity.

Team Tai Tai showing their wings between rounds
After we'd seen a few races, the rain began to get old. So we rode home in the most worn out taxi I've ever seen.

If it doesn't rain next year, we'll be there.

1 comment:

  1. Hey, thanks for the plug. Also, thanks for picking the most attractive picture of me on the interwebs. I like to keep my reputation classy, after all.