5/11/2007

Dragon Boat Festival Is Coming Up

The dragon boat festival goes back some 2,300 years, almost to the start of Chinese history.

The locals will tell you that Qu Yuan, an ancient poet, drowned himself in a river to protest an emperor that was so crappy that he, with his low standards, had managed to downgrade Chinese society. Qu Yuan is quoted as saying to the emperor: "You've turned China into a country of beasts and this has broken my heart." At first, his countrymen threw balls of sticky rice into the very same river so the fish would have something feed on other than Qu Yuan's corpse. Later, the Chinese took to racing dragon boats once a year in spring to show their appreciation.

Each dragon boat carries 22 competitors: 20 rowers, a drummer and a steerer. A dragon boat like the one pictured above goes for NT $600,000 (US $18,000). If you're interested, you must put your order in a couple of weeks in advance. Go to Taipei and head down to the Danshui River by the Da Dao Chen Wharf to place your order.

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