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A Different Side of Dragon Boat: Tai O’s Enduring Ritual

July 19, 2017
This year marked yet another action-packed Dragon Boat Festival as onlookers took to the beaches and city’s vantage points to soak in the sights, sounds, and thrills of the beloved holiday. An age-old celebration with roots anchored in antiquity, the Dragon Boat Festival originated as a means to honor the legendary poet Qu Yuan. Together with the sonorous beating of the drums and the exhilarating boat races that mark the occasion, the day is also an excuse to feast upon delicious glutinous rice dumplings, or zongzi. 

To toast this year’s festival on May 30, The Peninsula Hong Kong invited guests to a one-of-a-kind experience in Tai O. As Hong Kong’s last remaining fishing village, Tai O retains an old-time allure and charm, complete with a slower pace of life and stilt houses that are a world away from the skyscrapers and bustling energy of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. Each year during the Dragon Boat Festival, Tai O commemorates the holiday with a sacred ritual not seen elsewhere in Hong Kong. A historic practice that has been passed down through generations of local village families, this Tao O ritual is performed annually to pacify the water ghosts and pray for peace. 

Peninsula guests arrived in the early morning to witness the ceremony in its entirety. From the welcoming of Chinese deities by villagers at Hau Wong Temple to the breathtaking boat procession through the community’s waterways, the tradition was made more insightful by a local expert who remained on hand to explain the significance of each stage of the ceremony. 

The Tai O discoveries continued with a delectable food tour of the region’s numerous specialities. Guests feasted upon coal-fired Chiu Chow dumplings, oversized fish balls, shrimp paste, egg waffles, and more, marking a delicious conclusion to a distinctive and unforgettable Dragon Boat Festival experience. 

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