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18th issue by YZU on June 2009

The Dragon Boat Festival was one of the most anticipated festivals for us this year.  It was not that we knew what the festival was about, it was due to the fact that we would be participating in the Dragon Boat Races. 

 

The second year students at NTHU had been telling us stories of how exciting the races were last year, but were disappointed in how poorly they had performed.  They were serious about performing better this year.

 

The second year students, with the help of the foreign student office, assisted with procuring all the equipment needed for the races.  We were to practice twice a week for one month.  First the practices involved general fitness exercise, then moved on to synchronized paddling on dry land and finally to a practice in the harbor.

One of my best experiences in Taiwan so far. The Dragon Boat festival according to what I read is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month and is a traditional Chinese holiday that includes eating traditional Chinese rice dumplings and racing boats with huge dragon heads at the front. This event, together with Chinese New Year and Mid-autumn Festival forms one of the three major holidays.

  Dragon boat festival was a very nice experience to me. Since I had never heard about it nor tasted its traditional food.

At first, I did not understand the Origen of the festival, but after listening and reading from different sources, I think the story goes as follows:

 It was early morning when I started to  prepare for my day out of the dormitory. I was relieved to at least do something different than the usual, that is to study and study. The professor  of Research and Evaluation had arranged for us to go along with some of his friends to the Dragon Boat Festival  and from what I had heard it should be a “wow” event.

They were already waiting for us in front of the Post office and immediately my friend and I got acquainted with the  jovial Taiwanese couple who would became the best tour guides for the outing that day.

Two days before the competition, we went to Anping to practice and we practiced for around two hours. There were 19 people on each boat, and the boat was in middle size. I was told that the dragon boat competition is originated in China after a poet killed himself in the river. Apparently many people loved him and so they threw rice into the river so the fish could eat the rice instead of eating the body of the poet.

The dragon boat festival took place in Anping on Wednesday, 8:00pm on May 27th. We took the bus at 6:30pm at the main gate of Kun Shan University. We didn’t leave until 7:00pm because we were waiting for someone. On the bus, the staffs of international office gave us some bread and juice so some of us ate them on the way. We got to Anping about one and a half hour later. At there, it was like a night market on the street. We practiced for a little while before the competition. We warmed up, stretched out and practiced to be coordinated on the floor.

Since I came to Taiwan in 2006, I have always supported the International student team of my university, Kun Shan University. Three years ago, there were just male students and I was the only girl here. I never encouraged myself to participate in this kind of competition, so I just cheered them up. In 2008, fortunately, there are 2 more girls coming to study at Kun Shan University. This year, they encouraged me to participate together with the boys.

The experience was really nice and exhausting. We practiced two times and we were ready for the competition. Our university registered for two teams. One was for beginners and the other one was made up of all boys who had previous experiences. The first practice was very rewarding because we were the team which had most people who had never rowed before. However, with the boat leader’s help, step by step we synchronized the rowing with the sound of the drum. After this practice, my arms hurt really much. Two days later we went for the second practice. We were really tired due to the previous practice but we tried to encourage each other to do our best.

This day started early for me. My colleagues and I had to meet each other on Zi-you Road at 9:00am. Our plan was to go to Ciaotou Sugar Refinery (R22A), then to the Dragon Boat Festival in the afternoon near the Love River. Although the day was humid, I was looking forward to the long ride to the country via MRT, and then to return to the city for the Dragon Boat Festival, which I was hearing about during the week.

The trip to and the walk through the Sugar Refinery was not only relaxing but educational. The time went quickly and we were unaware of it. We immediately made our way back into the city to first have lunch at a shopping mall, then to go to the festival. Arriving at the Love River, we saw a lot of people at the river’s bank, cheering their teams as they took their positions at the starting point. They were all enjoying themselves despite the rain.

Before seeing the manifestation on the streets, I did not used to hear about the dragon boat festival. I was surprised when I was invited by an official to assist at the boat competition which would take place at the end of May; I asked him why do they organize this competition? He told that it is part of the dragon boat festival celebration; I thought it was organized only for Taiwanese people but He answered to me that there were a lot of foreigners who competed for the last boat race; in beside officials of several Taiwan friendly country usually participated to it; and he concluded to say: it is one of the greatest event in Taiwanese cultural life.

This festival was celebrated between 28th and 29th April, 2009. This event is organized every year as a part of a Chinese tradition, every fifth day of the fifth lunar month is considered one of the most attractive holidays during the year in some countries such as Taiwan and Hong Kong.  The celebration is an attempt to send off diseases and evil spirits.