Happy belated Tuen Ng Festival everyone! This year it was on June 23rd. This public holiday is also known as the Dragon Boat Festival. I always love being in a different country during a public holiday because it is a chance to see another culture’s traditions. During this trip I was particularly interested in whether our traditions in Toronto were similar or different to Hong Kong’s celebrations.
The background of the festival is that a well-loved poet, Wat Yuen, committed suicide by drowning himself in the river in protest against the corrupt government. The villagers, in sadness, they rowed boats in the river and beat drums so that the loud noises would scare away the fish. They also dumped jung into the river so that the fish would not eat Wat Yuen’s body. That is why we have dragon boat races and why we eat jung today.
Jung is sticky rice wrapped in bamboo leaves with different fillings such as salted pork, salted preserved egg, dried scallop and mung beans. There is also a sweet jung which is made with a different kind of rice and is filled with lotus paste.
Some shops sell the jung hanging on display.
In celebration I had savoury jung for breakfast. After asking some people in HK (a sample of three) it doesn’t seem that jung is really that popular. It’s hard for so much rice to be delicious. For me it’s a good comfort food. My mom also used to make jung herself when we were around the house. It seemed so tedious and particular, especially wrapping the jung, but I hope to learn so I can continue the tradition.
The one on the left was homemade by a friend of my aunt’s. I liked how the rice was clumped together, but not too dense. On the right is a red bean jung I bought from the stall.
I met with a friend to see the dragon boat races in Stanley in the southern part of Hong Kong. In the morning we went to Repulse Bay which is on the way to Stanley. Repulse Bay is known for its beautiful landscape. I relaxed on the beach for a bit and dipped my feet in the water.
There are now a lot of (pricey) residential developments around Repulse Bay.
There were some statues to various gods and goddesses since Repulse Bay is close to the dangerous waters. Can anyone help me identify who this goddess is?
We then headed to Stanley. Stanley is a seaside town with a British naval history. Now it is popular for tourists to come and enjoy the famous market, beach and waterfront.
The old police station that is now a Wellcome grocery store.
I grabbed a lunch of Singaporean noodles.
Then it was off to the races! There were so many people. We stood close to the dragon boat teams before they boarded the boats and I could feel the exhilaration. This was an international race so there were teams from Latin America and Europe too.
I used to do dragon boat which was tough work. Not only was it a good arm exercise but it worked my obliques from reaching over so much. Despite the difficulty, I think it is more fun to be a participant in a dragon boat race than a mere spectator from ashore. We could barely see who was first from our angle. I was later told we should have been watching from higher up. Ah, I see. It was still fun to be in the atmosphere.
Even though I got home before 4:00, I was so tired after a day out in the heat. Upon reflection, our celebration in Toronto is more low-key. It makes sense there is a grander celebration in Hong Kong, depending where you go. I’m really proud though that my mom brought over the knowledge of wrapping jung to Canada.