Today Floyd and I traveled to the city of Lukang (pronounced "loo-gahng"), about an hour's drive south of here, to attend their annual Dragon Boat Festival celebration. It's something I've wanted to do since I first heard of the holiday six years ago, but we've usually already been in the States for the summer by the time. But since it's based on the lunar calendar, the exact date of Dragon Boat Festival varies from year to year, and this year we're staying in Taiwan a little later than usual. As a result, this time we were able to be here for it!
Some would say we were crazy to do something like this the day before flying out, but we purposely got ahead on our packing and cleaning, and it worked out just fine.
Click here to read more about Dragon Boat Festival, how it's celebrated in the Chinese world, and how the holiday got its origin.
There was a lot more going on than just the boat races. The whole area was set up like a night market, with games and activities and stands offering a variety of foods. In the picture above, they're selling cooked quail eggs on a stick. (I bought a stickful - they were tasty with a little soy sauce!)
These are different kinds of fancy corn dogs. To the very left, beyond the multiple-scoop ice cream cones, were some interesting colorful drinks that must have contained dry ice, due to the "smoke" that came pouring out the straws.
There were a lot of different drink options, too, which was a good thing since it was an extremely hot day. I'm not sure what was in those cups - I asked the lady, and she told me, but I didn't know the Chinese words she used. In the glass bowl were what looked like stewed fruits that she was scooping into each cup. I might have tried one if I hadn't already been sipping something different - a green apple flavored milky drink that would have tasted a lot better if it had stayed cold longer.
This was another way to beat the heat! Those teenagers were having a lot of fun in this bounce house/giant wading pool. I was tempted to jump in with them!
More fun for kids! (Notice the Oppa Gangnam Style balloons?!) Below: more adults were interested in the gorgeous hand painted lanterns and dragon-themed art for sale at this booth.
While people browsed the booths and ordered food and gift items, dragon boat races were going on in the background the whole time. Two boats would race each other and then get towed back to the starting point, and then two more, and so on. The guys at the back were using rudders to steer, and there was always a drummer at the front beating the rhythm so all the rowers would stay in sync.
When they got near the finish line, the people you see at the very front would balance on their tummies on the dragon's head and lean way out to reach for a little floating flag on a buoy. They would grab the flag and toss it in the air to show that their boat had finished the race.
Well, I've experienced my first Dragon Boat Festival in Taiwan. That's one more thing I can cross off my Bucket List! Now to discover if any place around here is actually open for dinner, and then finish the last of the laundry and packing. California, here we come!
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