We've celebrated dragon boat festival many times before, but we've never done it with H's parents around and we've never gone to see actual dragon boat races!
It's been several years since we started making our own sticky rice dumplings (I mentioned it the first time we did it here), but I would say the main difference is not so much that I'm better at it, it's that now I know what I'm getting into. Last year when we were in the States we read a bunch of library books about the holiday, but that's really the most we've ever done. So we were pretty excited when we heard that there's a real dragon boat race here!
The atmosphere honestly felt a lot like the Relay for Life events I used to do as a kid. I can't quite pinpoint what it was about it. Maybe the little tents set up, or the people competing just for fun, or I'm not sure. Anyway, it was very fun! A lot of the teams seemed to be companies doing team building or volunteer groups teaming up to race or stuff like that. Apparently there were also serious racers, which, I have to say, raced very differently than the guys just having fun. (Thankfully they don't race against each other! There are competitive races and just for fun races.) But it was pretty fun to get to see both types! Although it felt like it was 100 degrees outside and there was no shade, so there was a lot of whining.
Once we got back and everyone had taken a cold shower, we got to work on the sticky rice dumplings! It was really fun to have H's mom here, because she had wrapped them growing up, although we quickly realized that there are many different styles of wrapping! The lady that sold me the string told me that it was the right amount of string for the number of bamboo leaves I had, but the way I was doing it, I had about half as much string as I needed, and going by H's mom's method, it was about 1/4 as much as we needed! We ended up making a "cake" of the leftover rice and meat and just steaming it on a plate, which, admittedly, was a lot easier than fiddling with the bamboo leaves and the string and getting the meat marinade all over your hands and all that. Although you do miss the taste that the bamboo leaves give it.
So we had the sticky rice dumplings for dinner along with some random vegetables, and everyone had a good day! It was really cool to be able to spend the holiday with H's parents too!