Chinese Water Sports: Dragon Boating
China never fails to wow its countless visitors with its many unique and superlative characteristics. The world’s third largest country, China boasts a very long and rich history that spans thousands of years. It also has some of the most recognizable sites of both natural and architectural beauty that are in a league of their own.
Whether you prefer the fast-paced city life in the main cities in the east, or authentic folklore of the ethnic tribes towards the west, there is never a lack of experiences for any visitor. Whether you prefer the balmy south or the frigid north, China is a destination that surely will not disappoint you. Here is why everyone should visit China.
China’s tourism has evolved to take excellent care of visitors’ needs.
China has quickly developed over the years to revamp its image such that it now boasts much-improved standards of living while throwing open its doors to all tourists and other visitors. Today, visitors to the country can visit most of the great sights without having to worry about unnecessary restrictions. The locals are warm and friendly to visitors, and they have been striving hard to improve their English standards to aid in communication.
Finding accommodation in most of China’s popular destinations is also a breeze, as there are more accommodation choices now than ever before to suit your budget range and tastes. Transport systems have also seen a vast improvement, meaning that you can quickly travel between two different parts of the country via rail or air.
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Some of the most picturesque natural landscapes can be found in China
Whenever you visit one of China’s renowned natural sites, an unforgettable experience is guaranteed, even if you may not be a big fan of nature. Some of the most jaw-dropping landscapes can be found right here in China.
For instance, if mountains and hills have always fascinated you, the panoramic limestone cliffs in Guangxi province and the surreal fog-covered peak that is Huangshan will not disappoint. Traveling to northern Sichuan will bring you to one of China’s most famous valleys – Jiuzhaigou. Here, the snow-capped peaks, waterfalls, forests, and lakes will simply take your breath away. By visiting any of these sites or many others, you are guaranteed the experience of your lifetime.
Among all the other sightseeing places, events and festival in China, China’s Dragon Boat Festival stands above all. Most people of the United States would never have heard of this unless they are of Chinese decent.
The dragon boat is narrow, long and powered by manual strokes. It is used in paddling sports that long before originated in China. Some people mistake dragon boating as a precursor to the Ivy League teams. During racing events these boats are usually decorated with heads and tails of dragons like creatures as part of the Chinese culture. A huge drum is then taken along onboard so that the oarsmen move together efficiently.
Races in dragon boats are traditional and is performed to commemorate Qu Yuan’s death as he was a true patriotic poet. This day is the one sports event that gets declared as a public holiday. Dragon boats vary in their lengths and crew sizes.
The person who does the drumming in the dragon ship is the vital link. They have the responsibility of leading the entire team through the course of the race with beats that are rhythmic and in tune with the paddle strokes. They can also pick up or make mellow the pace as it is required. The normal thing done is matching the beats with the actual movement of the oarsmen.
The new age dragon boating is being conducted at the global level by the International Dragon Boat Federation (IDBF). This Federation identifies two types of the dragon boating activities; they are festival racing and sports racing. The former is more in line with the original dragon boating.
The long endurance events like the Ord River marathon held in Australia that covers around fifty kilometers or the Green Dam Rally that is situated in China along the Yangtze River and covers around 100 kilometers. Both these events are supported by IDBF.
In the present day, dragon boating has been listed as among the fast growing water sport where thousands and thousands of people participate, and that has organizations and clubs world over in sixty countries. This sport is known for the friendship endurance and strength that the participants have in them. This sport has grown in its popularity as a charitable and corporate sport.
Lastly, Dragon Boating is not just a sport in Asia. It is well known even in North America. The sport is not just beautiful to watch but also has a varied history, and here the sport keeps in the line of Asian tradition with the message being conveyed in a unique manner!
Celebrating the Chinese Festivals of Hong Kong
If you’re on a Hong Kong cruise in the months of May or June, you may be fortunate enough to witness the grand spectacle of the annual Dragon Boat Festival. The adrenaline-fuelled event, which is rooted in more than 2,000 years of ancient Chinese history, is a must-see attraction in Hong Kong. Every year, the festival is held on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese lunar calendar and while it has incredible historical significance, the athleticism of the participants is a modern-day marvel.
Indeed, many of them train for months to paddle the massive dragon boats – which measure more than ten meters in length – through the water on race day. The boats, which feature ornately carved and painted dragon heads and tails, carry between 20 and 22 paddlers who make their way to the finish to the beats of the traditional drums and the roar of the crowd.
The specially-carved boats honor the ancient legend of Qu Yuan, and the festival is one of the oldest events in China. According to traditional lore, the popular national hero flung himself into the waters of the Mi Lo River to protest against the corruption of China’s ruler.
Rallying to save him, the townspeople flung dumplings into the river to keep his body from being eaten by fish and beating drums to frighten the water creatures away. If your cruise from the UK passes through Hong Kong at the time of the Dragon Boat Festival, you will see this tradition is honored by eating rice and meat dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves. Festivalgoers are also often keen to get into the water, whether they are just dipping their toes in or taking a proper swim.
However, it is well worth researching the festival if it is something you are keen on experiencing, as the dates change every year due to the differences in the Chinese lunar calendar and the Western calendar. But you are certain to feel that your research has paid off when you stand among the thousands of locals and tourists who stand at the waterside to watch the spectacle of the Dragon Boat Festival.