Lamma Island Race

04 Aug

The Lamma Island race in Hong Kong was a traditional fisherman race, a gathering of different villages in the area.  We were ferried by a sampan to the race site.  Instead of team tents, there were team yachts or barges.  While traditionally women were not even allowed to touch a dragon boat, our team, Wing Ho from Cheung Chau Island, was generous enough to let us all join in the fun. 


Before the race, the dragon boat was paddled towards and away from the goddess temple thrice, as a form of “bowing” and asking for blessings.  Offerings such as Buddhist chants and “Hell Bank Notes” were also scattered into the sea. 


Seeing how we Americans are spoiled for creature comforts, our generous host built a step ladder for us to get in and out of the dragon boat, and erected a shade to keep us comfortable.  If we had stayed long enough on the boat, they may even build a toilet!! But for now, a quick dip in the water would have to suffice…


Unlike many of the Miami teams where the drummer is simply a light-weight person to fill the seat, in the Hong Kong races the drummer makes the call, albeit not vocally, but through the variation in drumming, to signal the change of pace and other commands.  It was exhilarating to paddle in unison with the drum beat pounding like our hearts.


The highlight of the race was the awards ceremony.  All teams paddled out in their own boats to the stage right on the shore.  The trophies and flags were handed over to the winning teams, who waved the flags in pride as they paddled away.  Meanwhile, the paddlers engaged in an all-out water fight.  We are not talking about polite splashing with paddles.  No, we mean 5 gallon buckets and 2” water hose with electrical pumps.  Someone dumped water into our boat, and we worked the hardest to dump it into some other boats.  I guessed the objective was to see if these boats can sink?  Or to cross train your arms and back muscle.  It felt like we were under Niagara. Amazingly, food and beer continued to be passed around.  And cigarettes too, I am sure… If I could keep my eyes open…


As the day was over and the teams headed back to their villages, towing their home-made dragon boats, you got a feeling that this is how the race has been done, for hundreds of years, for generation after generation…






lamma 2

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Posted by on August 4, 2007 in Asia, Dragon Boat, photos, Travel


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