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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Dragon Boat Festival

Early in June we celebrated the Dragon Boat Festival.  It celebrates a very patriotic poet who died for his country and somehow ended up in a body of water (drowned? thrown in? suicide?  I'm not sure).  The locals loved him so much that they threw rice dumplings in the water so that the fish would eat those instead of his body.  It's also somehow connected to sachets (see later in the post), dragon boats and putting clusters of some kind of plant outside your door to ward off bad ghosts.  I'm sure you could find a much better synopsis on wikipedia.  Amazingly, I managed to teach an entire class about it at work.  Thank goodness the kids don't really understand half of what I say!

Anyway, we got the Monday off of work, but had just gone to Kenting the weekend before and were wary of using the trains to go anywhere because they are always packed on holidays.  So, instead, we spent the day in Tainan and went to the Dragon Boat Races in the Anping District that evening.  Tom didn't enjoy them as much as I did, but I thought they were great!  

There was a lot more there than just the races.  In fact, we didn't get to watch much of the races, because the only spots where we could squeeze ourselves through the people and get a view were at the very end and the very beginning.  But, from what we saw, we could tell it would have been great to have a real spot in the stands.  It was all dark except for the light of the dragon boats.  They looked menacing and impressive gliding through the black water with the sound of the drummer (each boat has one) and the oarsmen chanting in unison.  

Besides the races, there were also street stalls selling food and toys for several blocks.  About half way through was this stage:

Tom really liked the singer and decided he had a "man crush" on him.

The first photos of the boats were at the end of the race area.  These were taken at the beginning as the boats were getting in position to start.

No Taiwanese festivity is complete without a huge character in some form or other.  Mom, this photo is for you.

These are somehow associated with Dragon Boat Festival, although I'm not sure why.  Sort of like bunnies and Easter.  

This fish was HUGE and surprising.  Pictures don't do justice.

This stall had a huge line.  All the meat was grilled on this large grill that swung over the fire.
Like I said, I really enjoyed the festivities and the culture.  Tom, on the other hand does not do well with crowds, gross food or gross smells and there were lots of those.

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