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21/05/2013

Where to Enjoy Dragon-boat Racing in Beijing

Dragon Boat Festival is coming. If you happen to visit China at that time, you can visit the following places for Dragon-boat Racing for your last minute China travel deals.

Dragon Boat Festival-goers can catch the action at the following locations:

Qinglonghu Park(Dark-green Dragon Lake)

Yanqing District will host a race on June 16 at Qinglonghu Park, about 20 kilometers from downtown. The park features beautiful ecology with green hills, clear water, lush forests and open lakes.

To get there: Take bus No 917 from Tianqiao to Shihuadong (Stone Flower Cave). Get off at Dougezhuang bus stop. Or, take bus No 917, 922 to Liangxiang, change to No 6 minibus and get off at Qinglonghu. 15 yuan. 6032-1706, 6032-1642, 6032-1456.

Jiulong (Nine Dragons) Amusement Park

The Jiulong Amusement Park is located in the beautiful 13 Ming Tombs' Reservoir, or Shisanling Shuiku, in Changping District. A wonderful underwater dragon palace provides the perfect setting for activities such as the drift, F-1 racing and dragon-boat racing.

To get there: Take bus No 912 from Andingmen to get there directly; or take bus No 345 or its branch line from DeShengmen to Changping, then transfer to No 912. 55 yuan.

Xidu Park

Yanqing District will host a race in Xiadu Park in Beijing (a must-see city for your top China tours).

To get there: Take bus No 919 from Deshengmen to go directly. Get off at the Yanqing Dongguan stop. 6918-7575.

Tonghui River

Chaoyang District holds its first-ever dragon-boat-racing event on June 19 along Tonghui River. To get there: Take Batong subway line, then get off at Baobeidian. 6655-8009.

Village View Resort

Village View Resort is located on the banks of Yanqi Lake, Huairou District. You can take part in various water sports on Yanqi Lake, such as motorboating, speed boating, free floating and dragon boating.

To get there: Drive along Jingshun (Beijing-Shunyi) Lu from Sanyuan Qiao, and continue in the direction of Yanqi Lake in Huairou District. 6066-1166.

Splash and dash

The traditional Dragon Boat Festival - duanwujie in Chinese - has been celebrated in China for thousands of years on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar - June 19, this year. And while the dragon-boat race has traditionally been the highlight of the festival for most other cities in China, this year, Beijing gets onboard with full force, launching several boat racing events in various places, including the first boat race in downtown Beijing.

The festival has a long history in other big, and even small, cities, especially those in eastern and southern China, as well as Taiwan Province, and Hong Kong (a destination for popular China tour package) and Macao SARs. Traditionally, Chinese people celebrate the festival with boat racing, zongzi (glutinous rice dumpling) sampling and yellow wine guzzling.

For expats, munching zongzi could be a sweet treat. But it could prove even more interesting for them to see how modern Chinese observe the traditional dragon-boat race in Beijing's limited number of lakes or rivers.

It has only been in recent years that traditional boat-racing events have been staged in Beijing's suburbs, including Yangqing, Changping and Fengtai districts and counties. And this year, Chaoyang District, which is Beijing's central business district (CBD), will host its first boat-racing bash.

On June 19, eight teams in Chaoyang District would start the district's inaugural dragon-boat race on Tonghui River, which would be downtown Beijing's first such race since 1966.

Four of the eight teams are made up of farmers from Gaobeidian Village, while the other four are made up of employees from domestic and international companies, including The Place and Microsoft, according to organizers with the Beijing CBD Administrative Commission.

For the most part, the teams are less concerned about being the first across the finish line than having fun. And for some teams of foreign employees from Southeast Asian countries, the race is mostly about getting a day off work.

Tonghui River itself also boasts a long history. It served as the northern starting point of the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal which now become famous attraction to make contribution to China tourism, which was first built in the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC). Today, the river provides serene scenery amidst the hustle and bustle of the CBD area.

"It's good to bring traditional culture into modern times," said deputy secretary-general of the Chinese Dragon Boat Association Li Wenyong.

Dragon boats are usually brightly painted and decorated canoes, Li explained. Ranging from 40 to 100 feet long, the boats are carved with an open-maw dragon's head at the bow, colorful scales painted mid-ship and a serpentine tail rising from the stern.

Depending on the craft's length, it could be powered by up to 80 rowers who are led by a drummer and flag-handler who stand at the bow.

Before a dragon boat could be considered seaworthy, it must be ritualistically "brought to life" during a ceremony in which the dragon's eyes are painted on the hull.

Any number of crafts could compete in the event, which is won by the first team to seize the flag planted at the end of the course.

In addition to the race in Chaoyang District, another boat race is scheduled in Yanqing County. This county hosted its first annual Dragon Boat Racing Cultural Festival last year, and this year, its dragon-boat race will run from June 16 to 19 at the spacious Xiadu Park. There will be 11 teams taking part in the race, with about 22 people aboard each vessel.

"Anyone interested is welcome to participate in the boat race," said Huang Liying, a staff member of the local government, which organized the event.

According to Huang, there will also be other activities celebrating the festival, such as zongzi-making and folk art performances.

Located in the northern area of the capital, Yanqing County is a traditional summer resort destination of choice for Beijingers looking to beat the heat. It is known for cooler temperatures, beautiful countryside scenery and dozens of mountainous scenic spots.

You can get more through China tour operator.

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