|The many, many onlookers cheering for the racing teams!|
|Go team, go! Row, man, row!!!|
The "dragon boats" are similar to crew boats, with teams of twenty or so rowers and a strong one at the back to help with direction. A drummer keeps time at the front of the boat, indicating to the team when to row (in unison of course). They are painted and carved to look like a dragon gliding through the water. Some at a moderate pace... but some speeding along sooo fast!
|Dragons Boats lined up, Waiting|
The individual races are quick. We watched many races within the span of about 40 minutes - typically 4 boats competing against each other, then the winners moving on to additional rounds. I was surprised at the number of foreigners competing on the teams, but it seemed that many of the crews were multi-national. I learned from my co-workers that although the Dragon Boat Festival is widely celebrated, the percentage of people who attend the races is quite low compared to the population of the city... This was fairly evident. It was clearly a popular spot for athletes, families with children, and foreigners looking for a bit of local holiday celebration!
|Dragon Boat team, welcoming back teammates after a race|
|Happy Dragon Boat Festival!|
And sometimes, I just don't convey the full picture unless there is a video... To remind you of the Chinese/English announcers in the background. The sound of the dragon boat drums... the thrill of the race, etc!
Of course, there is a lot more background to this holiday than just the dragon boat races. You can check out a little more info here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duanwu_Festival