On The Fifth of The Fifth
Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the stream …………………
Oops….. wrong song and nursery rhyme. This must be the cutest dragon head I’ve ever seen on a dragonboat in all my life. It must have been the reason the nursery rhyme immediately popped into my head as I first laid eyes on the dragonboat. Who was the smart alecs that came out with the kiddy design? Was he holidaying in the Disney (Wonder)land at the time?
20/21 June were the days Sabah had its own state level Dragon Boat Festival (Duan Wu Jie) at the Likas Bay Public Park. And that was the first time I have ever attended the festival. Quite a tame affair, it must be said. Although the crowd turnout was quite respectable, the atmosphere of excitement and anticipation was not quite there, when compared to other dragonboat events organised in other places. It might be because the racing boats taking part were located at quite a distance off-shore. And thus the beatings of the drums and the rousing shouts & electrifying screams of both the contestants & spectators could not be audibly heard.
Watch the picture below and see the strenuous efforts put in by the contestants and wouldn’t that set the excitement & adrenalin pumping? Alas, that was not the case unless you had a powerful pair of binoculars to see the men in action.
And what about the team that seemed to be having a “splashing good time” on the water? Just like the Water Festival in Thailand all over again, no? Were they paddling or just having a smashing good time?
Hey up, then again you’ve got to apprecaite & admire the sportsmanship this team had put on- for paddling to nowhere. Exactly what they did to deserve the accolade from me? Well, you should have been there, shouldn’t you?
Overall, it was a typical public event organised by the state government. A large section of the beach was barricaded up to keep the public out. And yet they called it a public event. And worse was yet to come- they actually had the cheek to advertise and invite the public to turn up to watch the show. Now I can understand why most of my friends refuse to turn up at any public event. You see, public events here always see the whole government contingent & other dignitaries amd sundries turning up (not to mention the protocol and the protocol and the protocol- I thought we were living in the 21st century now, not the Dark Ages) and a large area is cordoned off and so the public is left out there scrambling for a vantage view, if you can get one that is.
During the prize presentation, the spectators should have beeen encouraged to gather around the pavilion (they called it the Grandstand, but it didn’t look anything like grand to me) to give rousing cheers to the winners. But it was not to be. As it was, it was a low key and tame affair. Event organisers in KK should be sent abroad to see how other countries organise their public events. Participatory is the key word.
To know the significance & history of the dragonboat race, read up on Wikipedia under “dragonboat race” and “duan wu jie” headings. It would be a waste of time for me to drone on on the same story.