Dragon Boat Festival

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

In celebration of the Dragon Boat Festival, I got a four day weekend off. The holiday is said to commemorate the suicide in 278 BC of Qu Yuan, poet and statesman of the Chu kingdom during the Warring States period. The admirers of Qu Yuan were said to have taken boats out to where his body was in order to scare the fish away or find his body. There are a few other origin theories involving another suicide, politics, or retrofitting ancient traditions.

Thursday, we went to Suzhou Creek to watch the boat races. It was hot and the boat races were pretty boring. It was unclear whether the locals enjoyed them, but there was certainly a crowd.
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Big bear draped over a bike.
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Street bears for sale!
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The crowds by Suzhou Creek.
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Girl with the red balloon.
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S., A. and J.
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Inflatable dragons. I named them “Dingo” and “Goofus.”
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Little incognito.
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Boat buffer.
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A chain is only as rusty as its rustiest link.
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Dragon boats.
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The race course.
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Bucktoothed spectator.
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Old man reading.
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The electrocution fountain.
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Dragon dog drinks.
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LED screen.
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Balloons over Suzhou Creek.
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Panting cat on a leash.
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The lurking gaffer.
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New from Chinese KFC: a pocket of WTF?
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Pesto lunch.
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Vegetable market near destroyed homes.

In the afternoon, we went clothes shopping and in search of a coffee grinder. H&M was a decent source of shame coverings. All of the electric grinders were overpriced, so we settled on a quaint hand-cranked model made of wood and tarnished steel. It works well, but its grind is fine. And this fine caffeinated powder isn’t ideal for French pressing.
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Manual coffee grinder and bag of Stumptown coffee. The coffee was kindly smuggled by M.’s visiting girlfriend.

On Saturday, I bought a ridiculously large-headed polo mallet from Speedcat Bikes and headed to bike polo. Everyone had fun despite the heat. A Tsing Dao beer concert was across the fence. The boys bought two cases of warm beer which we were able to chill in a pile of ice dumped by a Zamboni. I played horribly and got into a few good crashes. The mallet was too big and not very maneuverable. I was nicknamed “The Plow.” My rear brake stopped working at the end of the game, but it was fixed free of charge at a nearby bike shop.
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The apartment garden, set up for a party.
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Paving the security shed roof.
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The daily jackhammering of Ruijin Road.
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Me and my new metal polo mallet. Too heavy, but better than nothing.
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Zamboni-dumped ice makes a good outdoor beer chiller.
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My serious bike polo face.
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Throwing snow balls at the players.
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More snow slinging.

Today, the air was warm and filthy. J. and I met some friends for a filling brunch, then biked to Pudong to sit in the Jin Mao Tower lobby. Towering above Shanghai, we enjoyed the hazy view, read books, and enjoyed some pricy coffee. Not a bad place to hang out. The ride home was dusty and on the verge of rain. This town is a swirl of construction dust and smells.

Dinner: steamed buns, broccoli, and rice. Desert: red bean popsicles.

June, here we come.

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