This blog will discuss about Dragon Boat Festival in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. In addition, I want to compare a little bit between Dragon Boat race and Junk-race (Dua Ghe Ngo) in Southern Vietnam.
Dragon Boat Festival is a holiday that involves racing Dragon Boats, drinking realgar wine and eating sticky rice dumplings known as zongzi. Zongzi are pyramid-shape parcels of sticky rice wrapped in a bamboo leaves. Dragon Boat Festival is a three-day holiday that commences on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar – this year it is June 7-9th.
It took us an hour to get to the location of Dragon Boat Festival because Love River is longer than we thought. We tried to communicate with the Taxi driver that we wanted to go to Dragon Boat Festival but he did not speak English. I needed to pull out my phone to translate but the signal was really slow because my phone only had 2GB. We appreciated the Taxi driver because he really tried so hard to communicate with us. He pulled out the translation in his phone to communicate with us. Finally, we arrived the location of Dragon Boat Festival where it was next to Love River. We realized that there were two public bike station around that area, and we could rent bikes to get there instead of spending NT 220. It’s ok, Khoa! Dragon Boat Festival only happens once a year!
There were so many people in Dragon Boat Festival on both side of the river. We saw many teams prepare themselves for Dragon Boat Race. I was surprised to see at least two international teams for the race. The boats were between 50-100 feet long and had a drummer on board beating a rhythm for the crew to row to. The boats seem heavy with wide body which can carry 20-25 people.
Since the boat carries 20-25 people with 50-100 feet long and wide-body, we could not expect the boat goes fast; however, the atmosphere was intense from those fans who tried to support their teams. They keep yelling “Jiāyóu” (加油) which meant “come on” to support their teams. Although it looked like the boat goes slowly, the crew tried really hard by using their upper body strength. There was a girl on the head of the dragon waiting to catch the flag at the end of the race.
As I mentioned in the beginning of the blog, I want to discuss about the Junk-race (Dua Ghe Ngo) in Southern Vietnam. Junk-race is a part of Ok Om Bok Festival, an important festival of Khmer community. Southern Vietnam cover Mekong Delta, the extreme southern end of the Mekong River. Junk-race is a competition suitable for the areas criss-crossed with rivers in Southern Vietnam. Each boat (Ngo Junk) is made of an empty and big tree trunk in which the rowers take their seats. A junk can be 130 feet long (40 meters) and carries up to 50 rowers. Ngo junks are always decorated in front and on both sides. The body of boats are narrower and contain more people, those boats go very fast on the water which make the competition seem more intense.