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Dragon Racing!

June 20, 2018

Dragon Boat Festival in Xi'an

The annual Dragon Boat Festival is a Chinese holiday that occurs on the fifth day of the fifth month (on the Chinese lunar calendar), this year it landed on Monday, June 18. Though not as exciting as the thought of real dragons flying competitively, the dragon boat races are still pretty cool to see in person.

A mother and daughter watch the racers paddle away.

Dragon Boat Festival is public holiday in China when everyone gets to hang out with their family, eat special 'zongzi' sticky rice dumplings, and watch the races.

The festival arose from the true story of a famous Chinese scholar and poet named Qu Yuan.

He was so wise that he made the king look ridiculous, so the king exiled him. Qu Yuan spent his days writing his sorrows into poetry and ended up drowning himself in the river. The villagers went into a frenzy when they found out and spent days looking for him. They threw the zongzi into the river so the fish would eat those instead of Qu Yuan's body. They also rowed around in boats with dragon heads to scare the fish away. Thus, the dragon boat races were born as the people celebrated the memory of Qu Yuan each year.

There's various competitions in the Dragon Boat Festival; the main race and then other events held throughout the day. The teams consist of locals and some lucky foreigners that signed up early enough to compete. I showed up just in time to see the tug-of-war event where two boats are tied to each other and once the whistle blows, both teams paddle madly in opposite directions!

Racers get Ready: The drummer is seated up front to keep the rowers in sync.

Here is what the traditional sticky rice dumplings look like, courtesy of my friend Ya Qiu:

Traditional Zongzi: You have to unwrap it to reveal the sticky dumpling inside!

Of course, Grace and I had to follow tradition and throw some zongzi into the river:

1. First you unwrap the dumpling...

2. Then feed the fish!

The scenic lake view blends Chinese tradition with modern hotels.
Dragon boats with traditional drums.

The river has no shortage of color and tradition during this holiday.

This year in Xi'an, the dragon boat competition was held at the Qujiang Relics Park near the Tang Paradise. Even when there's no holiday festivities going on, you'll want to check out the stunning scenery and take a walk through the Park of Love!

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#travel #travelblog #china #xian #thingstodoinxian #history #explore #adventure #discover #dragonboatfestival #tradition #scenic

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