Watching Speaker Cup 2009 (Dragonboat race)

Today is the first of the four-day long weekend here in Taiwan, and Taiwanese people celebrate it by eating rice wrapped by bamboo leaves and watching dragonboat races. My friend from my internship last year is part of a dragonboat race team and so today I headed out to Bitan (in Taipei County) to cheer him and his team on.

It is quite a serious competition as this is the 17th year and the total prize money is 1 million dollars NTD. The competing teams range from firefighters (who won nine years in a row), soldiers, student atheletes, First Nation tribes, companies, and so forth. So the atmosphere is intense and exciting. But it is easy to separate the good teams from the bad in the prilimnary rounds as the well-trained and discipline teams leave the unprepared and poorly trained teams far behind.

My friend's team - made up of enthusiastic swimmers. The oldest member of the team is over 80 years old, and you can see him in front of the boat ready to snatch up the flag (first team to snatch the flag in their lane wins the race).

Exciting times arises when well-matched team go head-to-head at the very last moment!

Today is elimination rounds, and tomorrow will be even better as good teams compete with each other and fight for a spot in the final round.

Besides the dragonboat race competition, there are many tents and vendors set up for food, entertainment, shows, and games (a typical part of Taiwan's outdoor events). One that caught my attention was set up by Taiwan's scouts - showing the different caterpillars and pupae of the butterflies of Taiwan.

I don't know the identity of them all, but aren't they amazing looking!?

After the race, I continued to walk around the river, and below the bridges I saw many Small Egrets (Egretta garzetta) and Black-crowned Night Heron resting and fishing.

Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) - 小白鷺

Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) - 夜鷺

Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) - 夜鷺

That's all for today. I haven't post a sky-watch photo in a long time as the skies in Taipei are normally gray and thick (or maybe it is the pollutions?).

But the sky finally cleared a little for me to take a picture of it while riding the MRT.

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