Sabah Dragon Boat Race: Turning Strangers Into Friends

It was a sunny Sunday morning when I arrived at the venue of the 28th Sabah Dragon Boat Race at Likas Bay yesterday.

I was assigned to do colour story on the event, interview local and foreign tourists asking what they feel about the event and so on...

The festival, supposedly a symbolic race to remember a heroic poet in China named Qu-Yuan who was banished from the court when the ruler heeded the counsel of corrupt officials who conspired against him, was celebrated by the locals of Sabah in the spirit of friendship and sportsmanship.

Before the first race, tree young travelers came to  our group (a bunch of journos on duty) asking whether they can join us as we were sitting on the sands. I said yes, hoping that I have the chance to interview them.

About 30 minutes exchanging stories and travel tips, the race started and everything done at about 12 noon. Since the three of them are heading to the city centre, I offered them a ride as my office is located next to Sunday Market. I turned strangers into friends.
Sam Felchar of France and Dagny-Elsie Anastassiou of Norway were featured in our paper today. Sam emailed me and promised to send me a postcard from France. He even promised to host me if I am planning to visit his hometown, Paris.

Oh ya, Sam and Dagny with the other friend, in fact, hitchhiked all the was from city centre to attend the race. So, offering a ride is not a big deal for me. I have done it before, why not do the same here, right?

One of my favourite stories for this year event, Singapore’s ‘Paddlers in Pink’ team stood as the defending champions in the Breast Cancer Survivors Women category, having attended last year’s 27th Sabah Dragon Boat Race as well.

Team captain, Irene Chui, and vice-captain, Rietta Teo, of the Singapore team of 33 people were both clad in full pink apparel, a color symbolizing breast cancer awareness. Their team represented the Breast Cancer Foundation of Singapore in the competition.

Both women were ecstatic to have won the title again this year and proudly stood as the race champions in addition to being breast cancer survivors.

“We want to show that we can still enjoy life to the fullest despite the ordeal we had to go through,” Irene said during the interview.

Looking at their spirit, I have the deepest respect for all cancer survivors. Salute them!

Visit Sabah Dragon Boat Race website to know more about the event, in case you are visiting Sabah in June next year.

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