ultramarinus – beyond the sea

Posts tagged “Drum

DRAGON BOAT WATER PARADE (龍舟遊涌), Tai O (大澳), Hong Kong

Under the scotching sun in the summer morning of Dragon Boat Festival (端午節), former villagers and outside visitors gather along the the narrow waterways and mangrove channels of Tai O to take part in the annual Dragon Boat Water Parade and Race.  The sleepy and somewhat touristy fishing village once again fills with laughter and rhythmic drum beats, reminding elder villagers how vibrant Tai O fishing village used to be decades ago.  Now a popular sporting and recreational event that held in many cities around the world, dragon boat is actually originated right here, from the fishing communities in the Pearl River Delta where Hong Kong is located.

In the old days, young men in fishing communities in the region, like Tai O, would volunteer to join the Dragon Boat Festival.  While most would enter the boat race, a small group would participate in the religious parade, in which small statues of local deities are brought out from temples and paraded around the village in decorated dragon boats.  The dragon ritual is meant to cast away evil spirits in the village with heavy drum beats, synchronized paddling, and incense smoke.  Unlike modern dragon boats made of lightweight materials such as fiberglass or carbon fiber, traditional dragon boats are constructed using teak wood.  Each 65-ft boat takes 32 paddlers, 2 drummers, 1 gong striker, and 1 steerer.   During the Dragon Boat Festival, modern dragon boat races are held in rivers, beaches and the harbour allover Hong Kong.  Yet to get a taste of century-old dragon boat tradition, there is no better place than Tai O, where old rituals are still performed every year.

DSC_3802After an hour of ferry and 40 minutes of bus, we finally arrived at Tai O where the Dragon Boat Water Parade was about to begin at 10am.  Organizers were busy putting on the last bits of decorations onto the traditional dragon boats.

DSC_3837Flanked both sides by old stilt houses, the main waterways of Tai O provide the best setting for the dragon boat parade.

DSC_3865Decorated deity boat was always led by a long traditional dragon boat.

DSC_3872The Tai Chung Bridge opened up only in the Dragon Boat Festival for the passing deity boats.

DSC_3892The busy Tai Chung Bridge often serves as the visual focus of the entire fishing village of Tai O.

DSC_3987Despite the annual parade, fishermen were still selling fresh seafood right by the waterfront.

DSC_4030Statues of deity from three different temples were brought out for the parade.

DSC_4055Behind the designated dragon boat, the colourful deity boat was led around the waterway network.

DSC_4065Many paddlers of the traditional dragon boats came from the older generation of the local Tai O villagers.

DSC_4112The river mouth served as the main venue for dragon boat races.

DSC_4124Larger fishing boats served as the base of different racing teams.

DSC_4134It was fun to watch the dragon boat race from the spectator jetty at the waterfront.

DSC_4159All paddlers gave their best effort during the dragon boat race.

DSC_4176One of the most important aspect of dragon boat paddling is the quality of their synchronized movements.

DSC_4186The exciting shouts of loyal supporters offers outside visitors a glimpse of the community spirit of Tai O.

DSC_4207At the end, an award ceremony was held at the spectator area.

DSC_4250While the dragon boat race captivated the hearts of spectators at the river mouth, the deity boats and traditional dragon boats continued to parade around Tai O’s waterways.

DSC_4221At around noontime, the dragon boat parade was coming to an end.

DSC_4225Wooden dragon boats were once again put into storage along the waterways.

DSC_4212Until next year’s Dragon Boat Festival, visitors coming to Tai O can visit the small community museum to learn more about the traditions of dragon boat.


DAY 1 – NIGHT ARRIVAL, Xian, China

In Mid-October, we had the opportunity to reunite with two of our travel buddies for a short trip to China.  It was the week after the week-long Chinese National Holiday.  We had a simple travel plan consisted of two distinct parts: Xian (西安) for history and Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝) for natural scenery.  Xian, historically known as Changan (長安), was the ancient capital of China for 13 different dynasties, spanning a total period of over 1200 years, including the golden age of Han and Tang Dynasty.  The ruins of ancient royal palaces and tombs, such as the magnificent Terra-cotta Warriors of the First Qin Emperor, revealed the former glory of ancient China.  Jiuzhaigou, on the other hand, has been renowned for its out-of-this-world alpine scenery.  It is located at the north of Sichuan Province (四川) where the plains of Eastern and Central China begins to give way to the Tibetan and Qinghai Plateau.

After a minor delay, we flew out of Hong Kong in a Saturday afternoon.  It was already dusk by the time we landed at Xian Xianyang Interational Airport.  We took an airport bus into the city, and taxied the rest of the way to our hostel south of Xincheung Square (新城廣場).  Our taxi passed by the well-preserved Ming city wall and the brightly lit historical Bell Tower.  After getting off, it took us a while to find the alleyway where our hostel was located.  We were delighted to find our hostel room clean and comfortable.  After checking in, we headed out immediately to grab a quick dinner.  According to guidebook, an old famous restaurant of Shaanxi Muslim food called Lao Sun Jia (老孫家) was just five minutes of walk from our hostel.  We found our way to the restaurant at the fourth floor of a retail centre.  It was about 21:00 and there was only one table of guests finishing off their beer and noodles.  We sat down and ordered the popular paomo (泡饃), or crumbled flatbread in either mutton or beef stew. 

After dinner, we wanted to checked out the beautiful Bell Tower (鐘樓) right at the historical heart of Xian.  It was another five minute of walk from the restaurant.  The tower was already close for the day, but we could still admire the historical architecture across the street from the tower’s roundabout.  This handsome piece of traditional architecture was an icon of Xian.  In the old days since the 14th century, the tower’s main function was to mark the moment of dawn with its bells.  A few blocks away, we noticed another historical building prominently lit up.  It was the Drum Tower (鼓樓), the building that originally housed 28 drums to mark the day’s end at dusk.  Around the corner from the Drum Tower, we entered a busy pedestrian streets packed with snack vendors.  We had entered Beiyuanmen (北院門) Street, the core of Xian’s Muslim Quarter.  It was almost 10pm but the street was still busy with visitors.  There were a number of vendors selling barbecue lamb kebabs, mutton or beef sandwiches, local pomegranate juices, traditional sweets, nuts, persimmon cakes, and many other kinds of desserts.  After the filling meal of paomo, we gave it a pass for the street food.  We slowly walked back to our hostel, hoping to get some good rest.  In the next morning we would exit Xian and head eastwards to the foot of Lishan Mountains to check out the most popular tourist attraction of Xian: the First Qin Emperor’s Terra-cotta Warriors.

dsc_7127Mutton paomo (泡饃) at Lao Sun Jia Restaurant (老孫家).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABeef paomo (泡饃) at Lao Sun Jia Restaurant (老孫家).

dsc_7131Heading towards the icon of Xian, the Bell Tower (鐘樓).

dsc_7152The Bell Tower stands at the centre of a large roundabout.

dsc_7166The 14th century structure is lit up with atmospheric lighting.

dsc_7186The Drum Tower at a distance, and in front, the public square between Bell Tower and Drum Tower.  The square is flanked by local restaurants, a department store, and a Starbucks.

dsc_7204Signage at the Drum Tower.

dsc_7208The mighty Drum Tower near the entrance to the Muslim Quarter.

dsc_7220Street vendor of lamb kebabs at the Muslim Quarter.  There were terrifying lamb skeletons hanging in front of each kebab store.

dsc_7227Beiyuanmen (北院門) Street, the main pedestrian street at the Muslim Quarter.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAVendor selling regional pomegranate juice.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARose cake, another kind of local dessert.

dsc_7229Kebab stores were the most popular.

dsc_7235Muslim beef sandwiches.

dsc_7244Vendor handling of sweet being heated up.

dsc_7245Persimmon cakes and a friendly smile.

***

Our posts on 2016 Xian and Jiuzhaigou:

DAY 1 – NIGHT ARRIVAL, Xian, China
DAY 2 – QIN EMPEROR’S TERRACOTTA ARMY, near Xian, China
DAY 2 – BIG WILD GOOSE PAGODA (大雁塔), Xian, China
DAY 3 – HAN YANG LING MAUSOLEUM, Xian, China
DAY 3 – SHAANXI HISTORY MUSEUM, Xian, China
DAY 3 – GREAT MOSQUE (西安大清真寺) AND MUSLIM QUARTER, Xian, China
DAY 3 – MING CITY WALL, Xian, China
DAY 4 -FIRST GLIMPSE OF JIUZHAIGOU (九寨溝), Sichuan (四川), China
DAY 5 – ARROW BAMBOO LAKE (箭竹海), PANDA LAKE (熊貓海) & FIVE FLOWER LAKE (五花海), Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝), China
DAY 5 – PEARL SHOAL FALLS (珍珠灘瀑布), MIRROR LAKE (鏡海) & NUORILANG FALLS (諾日朗瀑布), Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝), China
DAY 5 – LONG LAKE (長海) & FIVE COLOURS LAKE (五彩池), Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝), China
DAY 5 – RHINOCEROS LAKE (犀牛海), TIGER LAKE (老虎海) & SHUZHENG VILLAGE (樹正寨), Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝), China
DAY 6 – ASCEND TO FIVE COLOUR POND (五彩池), Huanglong (黃龍), Sichuan (四川), China
DAY 7 – FAREWELL JIUZHAIGOU & XIAN, China