Ping Tracker

Monday, June 6, 2011

Music Competition, Brotherhood, and Duan Wu

Today was the last round of the music competition and we were in the top 10! Janson told me there were something like 200 contestants or more at the beginning, so I feel so great that we did so well! We got a certificate award that congratulated us on being in the top 10 and we also were noted on it as the "most attractive" or "most stylish performace" band - at least that's how my friends translated it. I think we were 'attractive' because we were the only real band - everyone else in the competition was singing by themselves along with a track. 
I was pretty happy about the reward, but I was more happy about what happened afterward. Me and the other guys in the band were just hanging out and talking about the competition and they said that we were forever ES Band (Exchange Student Band - the other guys in the band are going to Chicago in the fall, so they are technically exchange students). I was pretty thirsty and I said I wanted to get some water, but Janson said, 'here, just have some of mine - we are brothers, what does it matter?'
This isn't a big deal in America - we say 'hey bro, what's up?' or something like that all the time and it's just a greeting, but here in China, that carries some weight. We have already said that we are going to be friends forever - almost every weekend and sometimes during the week, I spend hours and hours with these guys talking, eating, walking, singing, practicing for this competition, and anything. You can't spend this much time with people and not end up liking them. Without a doubt, they are some of the greatest friends I have ever had. I will be very sorry when the day comes that I won't see them anymore. We are brothers. 
Today, me, Benjamin Xi, and another guy named Stan (one of Benjamin's roommates) climbed up Bai Ta Shan, which means White Tower Mountain. It was a pretty fun, but exhausting climb - the view was amazing.
Tomorrow's the Dragon Boat Festival (端午节) - I'll be interested to see what kind of stuff the city's going to be doing for the holiday. I think I'll go down to the Yellow River and see if there will be any boat races. (turns out no, they only do that on the Yangtze Rive)
The Dragon Boat remembers Qu Yuan, who was a high ranking official during the Warring States Period in ancient China. He was living in the state of Chu, and during that time, there were Seven Kingdoms, including the kingdom of Qin, who wanted to conquer the other kingdoms and unite China. Qu Yuan wanted the other kingdoms to unite against Qin, who was the strongest kingdom. His king and the king's son didn't agree with Qu Yuan's idea and demoted him and he was forced to leave the city. Qu Yuan was very depressed and often worried about the future of his kingdom, so one day he threw himself into the Yangtze River (I believe that's the right river) and drowned himself as a protest against his king. Qu Yuan was a very beloved figure, so many people got in their boats and raced to save him, but it was too late. While they were trying to find Qu Yuan's body, they threw what's called Zong Zi, a type of food which is sort of a pyramid shaped rice ball made from rice powder, into the river so the fish wouldn't nibble on his body.
Now, people hold boat races in order to remember the speed that people employed in order to save Qu Yuan, and eat Zong Zi to also remember him. The boats all have dragon heads mounted on the front (I don't know the word for it), so the festival eventually got the name Dragon Boat festival. 

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