Category Archives: Events

Chap Goh Mei

Chap Goh Mei represents the fifteenth and final day of the Lunar New Year period as celebrated by Chinese migrant communities. The term is from the Hokkien dialect and literally means the fifteenth day of the first month.

It is the occasion of the first full moon of the New Year.

The occasion is marked by feasting and various festivites. In Taiwan it is celebrated as the Lantern Festival. In Southeast Asia it is known as the Chinese Valentine’s Day, when young unmarried women gather to toss tangerines into the sea – a custom that originated in Penang, Malaysia.

Dragon Boat Race

A more specific term for dragon boat as a sport is dragon boat race, which is a team paddling sport on water, using painted boats to which are attached decorative dragon heads and tails. The length of the race can be 500 meters and the normal crew number is 22, including 20 paddlers, 1 steerer and 1 drummer. It is a variation of rowing that originated in China.

Roles
During the dragon boat race the paddlers sit in pairs, facing forward unlike in rowing. The steerer, also called a helm or steersperson, either sits or stands at the back of the boat. A drummer sits at the front of the boat facing backwards, and helps set the pace of the paddle strokes by beating the drum. Teams can be singe-sex (typically all male) or mixed.

Steerer
Good steerers keep a straight course during the race, and also keep the boat and the crew safe. During the race, a steering oar is used which is mounted on the left side near the rear of the boat, and by pulling the handle of the steering oar to right, the boat will then go left, and vice versa. Besides that, a steerer may also instruct the paddlers to take specific actions. In order to overcome all kinds of noises, instructions need to be spoken loudly and clearly so that the entire team could hear them. To ensure safety, he also needs to familiarize himself with the rules and other safety considerations such as the use of personal floatation devices, the weight distribution of paddlers, and the local water and weather conditions, etc. The steerer is often the strongest member of the team.

Drummer
The drummer and the lead rowers together set the pace for the rest of the team to follow. As strength is not a requirement for a good drummer, light-weight women are often chosen for this role, and are acceptable on all male teams. In many teams the drummer rather than the steerer determines when the rowers are to change pace, and therefore a loud voice is essential for the role.

Rowers
Rowers sit facing forwards and paddles are used in a canoe fashion (rather than the kayak style typical of crew). Because each individual handles only one oar, rowers will become specialized in right or left-handed rowing. Left-handed rowers are typically in higher demand. Stronger rowers are typically placed closer to the front of the boat, with the most experienced making the lead pair located directly after the drummer. The lead rowers and the drummer together set the pace for the team. All other rowers synchronize their strokes to the rowers in front of them (whom they can directly see) and the drum beat (which they can hear). In sharp maneuvers, rowers on one side of the boat may be instructed by the steerer to backpaddle, or lift or drag their oars.

History
The history of dragon boat can be traced back to more than 2000 years ago along on the banks of the life-sustaining rivers in Southern China such as the Chang Jiang (aka Yangtze). There are two main legends populary related to the custom of racing dragon boats:

Firstly, it was primarily held as a rite to awaken the hibernating Heavenly Dragon, which plays a most venerated role among the Chinese zodiac mythology and was traditionally believed to be the ruler of rivers and seas that dominates clouds and rains. Sacrifices, sometimes human, were involved in this ritual, and for this reason it remains a violent clash even centuries later as the crew members of the competing boats throw stones and strike each other with cane sticks. Originally, paddlers or even a entire team falling into the water could receive no assistance from the onlookers as it was considered to be due to the will of this Dragon Deity and could not be interfered with. If people drowned it was considered as a sacrifice.

This belief coincides well with the time of this festival, which is anually held on the 5th day of the 5th Chinese lunar month (varying from late May to middle June), which is traditionally reckoned as a month of death and disease, a period of evil and darkness due to the high summer temperatures. Thus venerating the awakened Dragon was meant to avert misfortune and encourage rainfall which is needed for the fertility of the crops and prosperity.

Some other rituals also serve as evidence of this theory, one of which called Awakening of the Dragon involved a Daoist priest dotting the protruding eyes of the dragon head carved on the boat, in the sense of ending its slumber. Another ritual required red paper being cut into the shape of the five most poisonous animals – the snake, centipede, scorpion, lizard and toad – that lure the Evil Spirits, and which were placed in the mouth of the wooden dragons in the front of the boats.

Another main legend connects this festival with a touching saga of a famous Chinese patriot poet named Qu Yuan. He lived in the pre-imperial period called the Period of the Warring States (475-221 B.C.) during which the area today known as China was torn into seven main states battling among themselves with unprecedented heights of military strategy. The author Sonzi (Sun Tzu) wrote the famous “Art of War” during this period, for example. As introduced above, Qu Yuan was a minister as well as a poet of the southern state of Chu, a champion of political loyalty and truth towards maintaing the Chu state’s sovereignty. The Chu king, however, fell under the influence of other corrupt, jealous ministers who slandered Qu Yuan as ‘a sting in flesh’, and banished his most royal counselor. In his exile, so the legend goes, Qu Yuan produced some of the greatest poetry in Chinese literature expressing his fervent love for his state and his deepest concern for its future. His body of work is contained in an anthology of poetry known as the Chuzi or the Odes of Chu. In the year 278 B.C., learning of the upcoming devastation of his country from invasion by a neighbouring warring state, he is said to have waded into the Miluo river in today’s Hunan Province holding a great rock in order to commit ritual suicide as a form of protest against the corruption of the era. The people learning of his suicide rushed out in their fishing boats to the middle of the river and tried desperatedly to save him. They beat drums and splashed water with their paddles in order to keep the fish and evil spirits from his body, and later on, scattered rice into the water to prevent him from hunger. However, late one night, the spirit of Qu Yuan appeared before his friends and told them that the rice meant for him was being intercepted by a huge river dragon. He asked his friends to wrap their rice into three-cornered silk packages to ward off the dragon. This has been a traditional food ever since known as Zhongzi, although the dumplings are wrapped in leaves instead of silk. In order to commemorate him, people held Dragon Boat Race every year on the same day of his suicide.

Becoming an International Sport
Dragon boat racing has been practiced in China by around 20 million people. But over the past 25 years it has spread beyond Asia to Europe, North America, Australia and Africa, to become an international sport with a huge following. Nowadays it is among the fastest growing watersports and remains amazingly the largest team sport, with over 60 million participants in over 50 countries. Main racing federations includes the International Dragon Boat Federation, the European Dragon Boat Federation as well as the Asian Dragon Boat Federation.

IDBF member associations exist in many places, for example China DB Assn, Hongkong DB Assn, Chinese Taipei DB Assn, Macau DB Assn, Singapore DB Assn, Australian DB Federation, United States DB Federation, Dragon Boat Racing Council of Canada, British DB Racing Assn, Italian DB Fed’n, German DB Assn, Swiss DB Assn, South African DB Assn, Danish DB Assn, etc. The IDBF holds world championship regattas on alternate, odd numbered years (Yueyang Hunan PRC 1995, Hongkong 1997 (2 weeks before return to Chinese sovereignty to become HKSAR), Nottingham England UK 1999, Philadelphia Pennsylvania USA 2001, Qingpu County Shanghai PRC 2003, Berlin Germany 2005, Sydney Australia 2007. In honour of the 2008 summer Olympiad in Beijing, the China DB Assn and the IDBF will stage a major international dragon boat regatta.

The biggest dragon boat festival racing events outside of Asia are in Canada (Vancouver and Toronto each race than 180 x 25-person crews racing over two days in mid-late June in correspondance with the 5th Day of the 5th Month custom. As co-operation plays a most important role in successful dragon boat racing crews, Dragon Boar Racing has also become an influential and very popular social, corporate and charitable sport, during which friendship as well as strength and endurance are developed among the participants.

Mid-Autumn Festival

The Mid-Autumn Festival (simplified Chinese: 中秋节; traditional Chinese: 中秋節; pinyin: zhong1 qiu1 jie2), Moon Festival, or, less commonly, Mooncake Festival (月餅節; pinyin: yue4 bing3 jie2) is a traditional Chinese festival/holiday on the 15th day of the 8th month of the Chinese lunar calendar (usually around mid- or late-September in Gregorian Calendar). On this day the full moon is at its roundest and brightest, which symbolises family unity and togetherness. According to Chinese traditions, on this day family members and friends will gather to visit scenic spots, gaze at the moon, and eat mooncakes and pomeloes together. Farmers furthermore celebrate the end of the agricultural season and the harvest on this date. A very important holiday in the Chinese calendar, the Mid-Autumn Festival is a legal holiday in several countries.

Origin
The origin of the festival is not very clear. It is said that the festival originated from ancient times, when people held ceremonies in honor of the Moon Goddess, or to celebrate the mid-autumn harvest.

However another version is that the Mid-Autumn Festival commemorates the uprisings in China against Mongols in the early 14th century. Because unlike the Chinese, Mongols did not eat mooncakes, the rebels hid a small piece of note detailing rebellion plans inside a mooncake, which was then smuggled to compatriots.

Safety In China

Compared with many other countries, China is considered one of the safest countries in the world for personal security. But petty crime has increased in recent year, specially in and around the major cities.

However, serious crime against foreigners is relatively rare. Petty crimes such as pick-pocketing and purse snatching occur somewhat frequently. Specially in crowded areas such as stations, markets, shopping areas, sightseeing destinations, etc… so it is wise to be cautious with your personal possession in public place. Following are some precautions to avoid potential problems:
Do not show off your money in public

Keep enough money for your immediate needs in your pocket, and hide the rest on your body or leave your backup supply in a safety deposit box at your hotel

Always keep valuables in a safety deposit box at your hotel instead of leaving them in your room

Remove any jewelry that may draw a thief’s attention before you go out for strolling

Never wear a bag or purse on your street-side shoulder in order to avoid becoming a target of the “snatch-and-ride”

Never carry your passport/visa, credit cards, traveler’s schedules or other travel documents in your shoulder bag or bum bag

Ensure that you aware of the values of different local banknotes to avoid being deceived

Be particularly cautious about your possession in crowded areas such as local festivals, markets, tourist sites, railway, bus stations, on trains and buses.

Always let your hotel or guides know where you are on your free days during your tour.

Respect the custom of the local ethnic groups.

Do not quarrel with anyone during your trip.

Any disputes should be reported to your local guides for resolution.

Avoid Traveling in any areas or sites that are not open to foreigners.

Do not voice publicly any opinions contrary to China’s laws and code of ethics and morals.

The Center

The Center is the third tallest skyscraper in Hong Kong after Two International Finance Centre (88 stories) and Central Plaza, Hong Kong.

Location: Queen’s Road, Central.
MTR station: Sheung Wan.
The 79 story building was completed in 1998. The building stands 350 meters tall.

The Center is notable for its arrangement of hundreds of neon lights arranged as bars in increasing frequency towards the top of the building, which slowly scroll through the colours of the spectrum at night. During the Christmas season, the building’s neon arrangement follows a festive motif and resembles a Christmas tree.

Lantern Festival

The Lantern Festival (Traditional Chinese: 元宵節/元宵; pinyin: yuanshangjie) is a traditional Chinese festival/holiday, which is celebrated by Chinese in many countries. In the Chinese calendar (a lunar calendar), the Lantern Festival is on the fifteen day of the first month, making it the first major festival after the Chinese New Year. The Lantern Festival is also called the Little New Year since it marks the end of a series of celebrations starting from the Chinese New Year.
A Buddhist holiday during the day, the Lantern Festival is often compared to Halloween because just as children go out trick-or-treating at night in Halloween, during the Lantern Festival, children will go out at night carrying bright lanterns. In ancient times, the lanterns were fairly simple for only the emperor and noblemen had large ornate ones; in modern times, lanterns have been embellished with many complex designs. For example, lanterns are now often made in the shape of animals.

Traditionally, the date also served as a day for love and matchmaking. It was one of the few nights without a strict curfew. Young persons were chaperoned in the streets in hopes of finding love. Matchmakers acted busily in hopes of pairing a couple. Often, those with brightest lanterns were deemed lucky and hopeful.

Those who do not carry lanterns often enjoy watching informal lantern parades. Other popular activities at this festival include eating tang yuan (Traditional Chinese: 湯圓), a sweet rice dumpling soup, and guessing lantern riddles, often messages of love.

Guiyang / Famous Shops and Stores

Introduction

Guiyang is the capital of Guizhou. It has many high mountains and basins among the mountains, with a landform of weirdly shaped peaks and plateaus, like a huge natural park. Guizhou is a province with the most ethnic festivals. Its handicrafts, such as wax printed cloth, lacquer, Maotai liquor and green tea, enjoy a high reputation at home and abroad.

Its minority handicraft articles include wax-printed cloth, flutes, lacquer ware, ink stones, carpets, pottery ware, lusheng (a reed-pipe wind instrument), embroideries and carvings.

Guizhou boasts three treasures: the tuber of elevated gastrodia, the bark of eucommia and glossy ganoderma.

Famous Shops and Stores

  • Wuyue Xinxio Garden
  • Tourism commodities, handicraft show
  • 19 Xihu Rd.
  • 5935328
  • Arts & Crafts Co.
  • Arts and crafts
  • 182 Zunyi Rd
  • 5931954
  • Friendship Store
  • Tourism commodities, souvenirs
  • 10 Yan’an E. Rd.
  • 6782336
  • Guiyang Antique Store
  • Antiques and souvenirs
  • 9 Gongyuan Rd.
  • 5824109