Today is a public holiday to celebrate the Qu Yuan, poet and statesman of the Chu kingdom during the Warring States period. He committed suicide by drowning in a river.
People remember him in different ways, but the most common ones are the dragon boat races and rice dumplings. What is the origin of these two customs? Well, they are clearly related to Qu Yuan and his drowning. By paddling out on boats, people symbolise that they scare the fish away or retrieve his body. The rice dumplings, which are sticky rice triangles wrapped in bamboo leaves, were thrown into the river to feed the fish. The intention here is that the rice is wrapped so that fish would not eat Qu Yuan’s body and eat the rice instead.
That’s why people in Hong Kong celebrate this day by eating rice dumplings and racing dragon boats. A big race was on in Discovery Bay today – you could already tell by all the flags that were blowing in the wind.
The weather could have been better, but at least it was not raining (like it did yesterday or the day before).
It was just grey and humid (as usually). Lots of people were at the beach, some watching their friends/colleagues getting ready for the next race, others relaxing after a (maybe won?) race and kids playing on the beach and in the shallow part of the water.
Every 15 minutes a race was held – with 5-8 boats racing against each other. Everyone next to me was either busy cheering or taking pictures. There were quite a few guys with big professional looking cameras… I’m keen to see tomorrow’s papers, there must be some great shots in there.
I’ve stayed for a few races – they were really fun to watch. Some were really close, it was hard to tell the winning team. Others were not as close and I felt sorry for the teams at the back. It must be tough to paddle as fast as possible and then to see the boats next to you surpass you easily. But we all cheered for everyone, even for the slower teams! Even participating is an achievement!
The races will go on until 6pm tonight, but I’ve left the races around early afternoon – time to go home and play with my cat Sam, who has grown so much already! There are still a number of races on, so fingers crossed for all teams.
As always, there’s a big carnival on the Discovery Bay plaza. There was a mix of Discovery Bay businesses, including food and drink booths from the restaurants on Discovery Bay – from nachos and tacos to curry and BBQ pork.
A few stalls were also selling cloth or local food (some delicatessen stores) – and the most popular booth was for kids, to draw with paint on an easel. Kids and parents were queuing up for it. I did not take pictures of the kids and just walked past, snapping a few shots of some other stalls. This year it seems, there were quite a lot of boots selling cloth… I could not find the guy with the fish and aquarium (from last year) or the insurance booths again. Guess they did not sell enough in the previous year!