For tourists visiting Hong Kong during the Tueng
The Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival is not just any competition; it's steeped in Chinese culture and is accompanied with a long history. This carnival is spread out across three days filled with entertainment, music, exotic foods and the perfect setting for a bit of healthy competition.
The competition takes place at the Victoria Harbour, at the Kowloon side of the harbour, each year. For first time travelers to Hong Kong, witnessing the dragon boats pushing through the water, side by side as the drums beat furiously; it's hard not to get wrapped up in the excitement of it all, while watching international paddlers compete against one another for the coveted prize at the International Dragon Boat Races.
In China the Dragon Boat Festival counts for a day's holiday, and it is part of a ceremony to commemorate the death of a national hero. Qu Yuan died by drowning himself more than 2000 years ago in the Mi Lo River. Folk legend has it that people who tried to rescue him began beating drums to scare the fish away, and food such as dumplings were thrown in the water to prevent the fish from feeding on his body.
It is from this tradition that dragon boat racing evolved. Today competing teams race in beautifully decorated dragon boats, while heavy drums are being beaten at the head of the boat. What make these boats distinguishable are the intricately carved dragon heads and a tail that appear at the head and bottom of the boat.
Each boat of over 10 metres in length has the capacity to carry a boat crew of about 22. The area where the paddlers sit is called the hull and it is decorated with the colours and scales of a dragon, with a bit of gold edging.
Paddlers who stand at the boat's bow will often light crackers while tossing rice into the water to relive the legend of the search for Qu Yuan, which adds to the excitement. According to history dragon boat races were held between different clans and tribes and even different villages. The winners received prizes by way of wine and free food.
Paddlers in the dragon boat take the race quite seriously and practice tirelessly while seated abreast with another paddler. The drummer is at the front and encourages the paddlers by beating the drum and is supported by a steersman who is seated at the back.
Popular festival food includes rice and dumplings made using differrent types of meat, which is wrapped in a banana leaf. It is common thinking among the local community that during the festival days if herbs are collected, the preparations made using them will be more effective. Various herbs are boilt in water and people even bathe with this water believeing that they will remain healthy.
For the adventurous travelers who lives off a backpack, a budget hotel in Hong Kong such as the Cosmo Hotel, will allow travellers to be centrally located and within walking distance to many attractions. A discount Hong Kong hotel such as this one offers guests a superior service.