2005 Taipei Dragon Boat Festival

Just happened to be in town for the Dragon Boat Festival, which falls on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month every year (June 12 in 2005). This annual holiday, celebrated in Taiwan and China, is associated with the remembrance of Cyuyuan, a poet living during the Warring States Period, who jumped to his death into the Miluo River. Local people rowed about searching for him, which evolved into the tradition of dragon boat races. Other traditions associated with the holiday include zongzih, glutinous rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves - originally used to feed fish in the river to save Cyuyuan from being eaten by them, and the burning of fake money in what look like small charcoal grills you see all over town.

Dragon boat races are a key part of the celebration, with races held in several locations around the country. Multiple heats of four boats at a time are run over the 500 m course during the 3-day festival. Each boat has about 20 oars, a coxswain timing strokes by beating a large drum, and a guy up front who's job is to lean out over the bow and be the first to grab a flag at the finish line.

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