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Dragon Boat Races

My ongoing comparison of Hong and Singapore will have to wait.

Yesterday Hong Kong celebrated the Tuen Ng Festival, which commemorates the death of a popular Chinese national hero, Qu Yuan, who drowned himself in the Mi Lo River over 2,000 years ago to protest against corrupt rulers. Legend has it that as townspeople attempted to rescue him, they beat drums to scare fish away and threw dumplings into the sea to keep the fish from eating Qu Yuan’s body.

Dragon Boat races are a major part of the festival. Participants train for months. Sitting two abreast, with a steersman at the back and a drummer at the front, the paddlers race to reach the finishing line, urged on by the pounding drum.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Hong Kong Dragon Boat Drummer Tuen Ng Festival Dumplings

As I mentioned in my recent entry Things To Do In Hong Kong, #1, as with most Chinese festivals, food is involved. People eat rice and meat dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves; and many look forward to swimming or at a minimum simply dipping their hands in the water.

Yesterday the major venues were at Stanley where many Gweilos (Cantonese for “White Ghost”) race and Tuen Mun where the participants are mostly Hong Kong residents. The International Races will be held Saturday and Sunday at Sha Tin. They used to run the races in Victoria Harbour but a combination of pollution and rough water caused by the ever shrinking size of the harbor forced a move to Sha Tin where they race on the Shing Mun River. Teams come from all over the world to compete here.

It doesn’t matter where the races are held, attending them is a guaranteed good time.