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Dragon Boat

Wednesday June 16th will be a bank holiday in Taiwan to celebrate the “Dragon Boat Festival“. See the advert here below.

Dragon Boat Festival is one of the major holidays in Chinese culture. Dragon Boat Festival is a celebration of the life of Qu Yuan, a Chinese poet, who ended up committing suicide by throwing himself into the Miluo river (full story here). The townspeople rushed to their boats to try to save him. Since he was much loved, they tried to prevent the fish from eating his body by throwing rice dumplings into the water. They beat drums to keep evil spirits away.

To this day, the 5th day of the 5th lunar month is celebrated by eating rice dumplings (zong zi) and racing dragon boats.

Zong zi (present from Nina) + tapa de fuet (home made)

At Taipei, this year, Dragon Boat races took place from June 11th-13th close to the Dazhi bridge in the north of the city. Check out the official website for all details about the event

Despite the rain a group of 5, including Anna and myself, gathered on Sunday at the Dazhi MRT station and headed towards Danshui river to enjoy the Dragon Boat finals. It was the first time for everybody so we didn’t know exactly what we were going to see.

As anywhere in Taiwan, the first thing you will find is food: squids, sausages, tofu, soups, etc. in a line of small shops.

At the starting area there were a lot of teams warming up and performing different kind of rituals before the race.

The Dragon Boat races, in a simple step by step process approach go like that:

Step#1 – Load the team into the boat. Four teams on each race.

Step#2 – Get ready to start the race.

Step#3 – Paddle! Paddle! Paddle!. The guy in the front beat a drum to keep the rhythm and the one in the back will take care of the direction.

Step#4 – Catch the flag

Step#5 – Check official results. As you can see in some races the difference is really minimal between the winner and the second

Some additional pictures in this slideshow

There are various categories (Men’s Open, Women’s Open, Institutions, etc.). The winner of the last race, the Men’s open category, was Philippines National team (01:57.80 min) so they took the top prize of 400.000 TWD (~10.000 Euros!).

Immigrants from Philippines are quite numerous in Taiwan. There is a Taiwanese movie, Pinoy Sunday, that is focused on the adventures of two of them trying to take a sofa to their dormitory at the outskirts of Taipei City.


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  • I love dragon boat festival!!!!