I’m not sure where to begin with this post.  It’s certainly been a while since I’ve updated the blog, but there’s a good reason for the delay.

We have decided to leave Hong Kong and have a fresh start somewhere new.  For now we’re back in the US, enjoying some quiet time of reconnection and reflection on what’s next for us.  It’s exciting to think of the possibilities for the next phase!

In the meantime, though, I’m not sure what to do with this blog.  I’m not really “from afar” these days.  I expect to just keep being quiet here for the time being.  If we end up moving overseas again, then I’ll return to posting (relatively) frequently.  Meanwhile, there are some photos from one of the last things we did in Hong Kong that I never got around to sharing, and now seems like a good time.

In China, there is an annual festival to commemorate the death of Qu Yuan, a poet and governmental administrator during the Warring States period (3rd century BC).  In Hong Kong, the festival is called Tuen Ng, and this year it coincided with Juan’s birthday.  The back-story for the festival is (according to wikipedia): Qu Yuan was a loyal and well-respected official, but he didn’t agree with his king’s decision to back a powerful state, the Qin.  He was exiled for his refusal to support the alliance.  Qu wrote volumes of poetry during his 28 years in exile, but finally, in despair, he committed suicide by drowning himself in a river.  The townspeople loved him so much that they ran to their boats in a rush to save him.  Seeing that it was too late, they dropped sticky balls of rice into the water so that the fish would eat something other than the poet’s body.

It’s all rather morbid, isn’t it?  Yet, this is the most widely-subscribed-to notion of the Tuen Ng festival’s origins.  Today, the festival is celebrated with dragon boat races (like the boats the villagers used in their futile attempts to save Qu), and with sticky rice balls stuffed with different meat fillings.

Dragon Boats

Dragon Boats

We went to two different places to see races.  The first was Aberdeen, which is a smaller venue with fewer Western people.  The races there happen in a narrow bay between two islands.

Racing!

These guys aren’t racing yet.  They’re heading toward the start line.

Also en route to start.  I thought this photo gave a better impression of what the boats with their paddlers look like.

Also en route to start. I thought this photo gave a better impression of what the boats with their paddlers look like.

paddling

These boats are full of spectators.  The races pass right by.

Now they're racing!

Now they’re racing!

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Another spectator boat.

And more racing!

And more racing!

I see now that these photos might be getting a little redundant.  But I like them.

I see now that these photos might be getting a little redundant. But I like them.

The paddling is not at all like crew.  The racers use very short, very fast strokes.  You can see they're all coordinated by the drummer at the head of the dragon.

The paddling is not at all like crew. The racers use very short, very fast strokes. You can see they’re all coordinated by the drummer at the head of the dragon.

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The entrance to the Aberdeen festival. Somehow we only saw it on our way out.

When we left Aberdeen, we went on to the big race festival at Stanley.  I didn’t take as many photos here, because the races were happening from the sea in toward the beach.  It was really hard to see who was ahead, let alone photograph the boats.  But here’s an idea of the view:

IMG_0109

Stanley Beach

This was a sort of quintessentially Hong Kong thing to do, and I’m glad we had the chance to see it before we started our next adventure!  Until next time…

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