Dragon boats (and their rowers) getting ready to race!
In the thick of the battle (and paddling)!
The nearest I got to any dragon boat yesterday ;)
The day before this year's Tuen Ng festival, a Danish visitor to Hong Kong asked me if I was going to go look at the Chinese ships due in Hong Kong the next day. After I figured out that she actually was referring to the dragon boats, I told her yes -- but that this actually was the first year that I'd be doing so!
Dragon boat racing is a big deal in Hong Kong, where the sport -- or, at least, the modern version of it -- originated in 1976. Over the years, it's spread to a number of other territories and I remember going and watching dragon boat racing as a kid in Penang. So I guess one reason why I've not been super inclined to check it out in Hong Kong is partly because it's not all that exotic an event for me.
Another reason is that it's quite the thing for tourists and expats as well as certain local Hong Kongers to go watch the dragon boat races. So I tend to associate these events with super large crowds (of which I really am not a fan), particularly the international dragon boat championships held in Stanley which a Japanese friend of mine regularly takes part in but I still can't bring myself to attend!
But when a friend living on Peng Chau told me about the dragon boat races being held there and assured me that they are very much a local affair, I was intrigued. And what really convinced me was that, because the races would be taking place at the bay which her place looks out to, we would be able to watch it from her apartment balcony -- far away from the madding crowd (if such actually were to appear that day)!
As it turned out, she was absolutely right that Peng Chau's dragon boat carnival being quite the local and -- by dragon boat festival standards -- and low-key affair. Indeed, I couldn't find any information about it on the usual websites with information about dragon boat races taking place at various Hong Kong locations, including ones as far flung as Tai O and Tai Po (such as the Hong Kong Tourism Board's); with seemingly the only publicity about the Peng Chau event having been disseminated on Peng Chau itself!
Leisurely watching the dragon boat racing in the company of friends while drinking alcoholic libations and a spot of lunch, I got to thinking of past experiences I've had of leisurely watching cricket in the company of friends in England and, also, Tanzania, and watching baseball in the company of a friend in the USA and Japan too. (I guess it's because these are all sports with frequent pauses in between actual action that gives one ample opportunity to chat and relax!) I also got to associating dragon boat racing in Hong Kong with boat races in England -- and thinking that if we were to do this again in Peng Chau next year, I'll ensure that there'll be Pimms to drink (along with the G&Ts and beer on offer this year)! ;b