The past few weeks, many Kaohsiung Fulbrighters and I participated in the 端午節 festivities by forming our own 龍舟. We were competing in the foreigner division against the likes of full-of-giant-Germans 中山大學, the very European Wenzao University, and the International World Games team, to name a few.
Anyway, when I first heard about dragon boating back in the fall, and found out there was a drummer who kept the beat, I knew what I wanted to do. So as early as possible I "called" the role of 鼓手... after all, I have rhythm, and the boat wasn't really missing out by not having my rowing arms.
I can't speak for the rowers, but I had a fantastic time as drummer. The rowers were supposed to follow my beat, so I had to give them a steady and doable pace while also aiming to be competitive with the other boats. It was basically my job to bang a drum and scream. What could be more fun? Maybe the guy who got to sit on the front of the boat and grab the flag at the end, but then again, he almost fell into the not-so-sanitary Love River.
Our boat consisted of 20 rowers (half Fulbright, half Taiwanese friends), the drummer (me), a steerer/tiller (Chris, our Bureau of Education liaison), and a flag-grabber (Henry, a military worker at Ling Jhou English Village). We had a total of four practices that were about 45 minutes each before we raced, and as the practices were in the afternoon, we never got to practice with a full boat. So, we may have lost in the end, but I'm incredibly proud of our team. The first time we tried the full length of the course (500km), it took us over seven minutes. On our final race, we clocked in at 4:18. Not a technical victory, but a moral one. Plus, those Germans were huge.
Our team name was supposed to be something intimidating. We chose "Hamburger Breakfast." Why? Because Taiwanese people think that Americans eat hamburgers for every meal. So I frequently led the team in a motivational chant: What do we eat? HAMBURGERS When do we eat them? FOR BREAKFAST!
As I was actively drumming and screaming throughout practices and the competition, I couldn't take any pictures. But here are some pictures from Fulbrighter Shiela and Jo (from San Min English Village).
Warming up before practice:
An afternoon practice with a less-than-full boat:
Getting geared up for our first race, in uniform:
Rowing into place for our first race:
Maya got some great photos of our races here. Also check out her video:
Anyway, Hamburger Breakfast was certainly a positive experience. Drumming for the dragon boat was one of the most fun things I've done since coming to Taiwan, and I hope I get the opportunity to do it again someday.
I should include that our fantastic team t-shirts, courtesy of the design styles of Fulbrighter Gered, include our team name, all of our names, some great designs, and my suggested slogan of "Your Ass is Dragon." Ten points if you can name that literary reference :-)