Yesterday was the Fifth day of the Fifth lunar month ,otherwise known in the East as Duanwu or the Dragon Boat Festival, which is celebrated not only in China but I believe also in Vietnam and other countries in the region.Funnily enough this year it fell on the same day as Shavuot which also features water-splashing-but more of that later. The school organized a trip for the foreign teachers to the neighbouring town of Shishi, which traditionally hosts some games and activities to mark this holiday. So we piled onto a bus and set off for Shishi,about an hour away from Jimei out east in the direction of Quanzhou. After getting briefly lost the bus arrived at around 11am in the dusty crowded provincial town which was bursting with people ,many carrying coloured flags and all streaming towards the sea.When we arrived at the seashore however,it appeared that the tide was out.Clearly no sea-based activity was going to happen for a while.The people informed us that the activities would only begin around 1pm- it was already a sweltering 35C and there was nothing at all to do Fortunately we found a small snack bar that served us cold mango smoothies, and which mercifully had air conditioning and even wifi. So we all trooped inside and settled down to eat the packed lunch the school had provided (mostly inedible) and wait. At around 12.30 we went back again to the coast,which was by now extremely crowded ,so that we could hardly see anything . Finally we were permitted to get onto the roof of a nearby temple,which had been prepared with chairs for visiting officials rand reporters. From this vantage point we had a great view of all the celebrations,and started to enjoy things,despite the oppressive heat.We had attended the Dragon Boat celebrations in Xiamen and Jimei the year before,but they had been very different from what we saw in Shishi.In Jimei different teams of rowers representing the different colleges and universities had competed in dragon boat races using highly decorated boats, the events rather resembling the Oxtbridge boat race.In Shishi however,there were firstly colourful parades of marching groups in different costumes,some carrying models of ancient boats.Then there were brass bands. Then men came down to the water with sacks of live ducks, which were tipped into the sea to be caught by fishermen. And many different kinds of boats performed varous other activities which were hard to follow,but which included splashing water over each other in mock warfare.
People carrying model boat
All in all the whole thing was pretty interesting if rather noisy and confusing.But hey,that’s part of travelling to untouristy locations right?
Well we have only three more days left in Jimei before we pack up and get the train down to Shenzhen and from there to Hong Kong and Laos.So hopefully I will be updating next from the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.
Stay tuned and please feel free to leave comments.