Chapter 2: Rainchina.
I’m sensing a theme here. Just sayin’.
The flight from Vancouver to Shanghai was 12 hours long. Oof. I don’t really like flying at the best of times and I hate long flights. I get airsick and claustrophobic and I don’t really like the feeling of not being able to get off. I basically tried to sleep as much as I could, though I also ended up watching a lot of TV shows on the Air Canada entertainment system. I made my way through the entire English section of the food category shows (which Ben thought was weird since I get airsick, but it’s not like I’m eating the food). When I finished the English shows, I even watched some of the French food shows and later on a bit of a Mando-dubbed Canto remake of a Monkey King movie. I also watched Star Wars: The Force Awakens even though I had already seen it because I don’t like suspense and if I can’t Wiki the plot ahead of time, I prefer watching movies where I already know what happens so I don’t get stressed out.
Getting through customs at the airport was easy and there was a guide waiting for us with an IDBF World Cup sign when we arrived. Each country was assigned a volunteer that would stay with the team and help them out with anything they needed for the duration of the trip, including translating. Ours was a cheerful, very helpful, very enthusiastic girl called Jerena (for the longest time I thought her name was Irena). She brought us to the bus (we lost Ben on the way because he had to go to the washroom and had to go running around looking for him) and we were off to Wujin. It’s supposed to be a three hour drive but ended up being closer to four due to traffic. It was a bit of a sad bus ride because we were all sticky and gross from the humid non-air conditioned airport (though later became super cold from the blasted air conditioning of the bus) and I sat next to Ben, who took up so much space (legs and shoulders everywhere). Luckily I slept most of it, though unluckily it was pretty sad sleep as it was very in-and-out and uncomfortable.
When we got to the hotel it was night and we were all pretty exhausted. It was a pretty nice hotel, meant for international guests. We happened to be sharing the hotel with about half the other teams (at least one of the Chinas, Germany, Russia, and Great Britain, at least), so that was kind of cool. The hotel restaurant stayed open late so we could eat dinner (yay Chinese food) but before going to bed and crashing we had to go take pictures for our IDBF accreditation cards. We had already taken pictures back in Vancouver and sent them in so I’m not sure why they couldn’t just use those pictures, but whatever. It turned out to be pretty neat, because the organization printed out information booklets with the program and the pictures and names of each country’s athletes. There were unfortunately only a few of these booklets given out to each team but fortunately I got one!
The next day was the one practice day that we would be getting. We had a morning practice and an afternoon one, to try out both the standard and the small boats. The team felt pretty good despite the dreary weather. It turns out that it was probably a good thing that it was cold and rainy in Vancouver because it prepared us for the weather in China, which, while rainy, was at least warmer than Canada. During the warmup, the coaches told the athletes not to take it too hard, i.e. don’t go all out with sprints or something. Ben still went hard in the run, so Graham taught him a lesson by pelting fruit from a tree at him.
During our downtime, it would have been nice to wander around the city and explore…if there had been anything to explore. Which there wasn’t. We were pretty much in the middle of nowhere. So we stayed inside, getting warm and dry, and also played some snooker. Snooker was the only game available and I had never even heard of it before this trip. Marcella had a vague idea of how to play, but wasn’t sure of the details so we sort of made it up. We went for all the red balls, counting each as a point, and once those balls were gone, we went for the other colours in rainbow order, ending with black. There was some debate as to whether pink went before brown and I don’t remember what we decided on. It was a bit of a confusing game because Adrian and I were on a team together while Marcella and Pearl were on a team together, but for some reason Marcella and Pearl went first and second, respectively, which made things kind of confusing. Marcella thought I was on her team while Pearl thought I was on her team and Adrian knew I was on his team. I knew I was on Adrian’s but the other girls didn’t figure out the team situation until about halfway through the game. We were all pretty bad, but Adrian and I ended up winning by one point through basically sheer luck.
In the evening, there was a team manager meeting going over things for the upcoming competition. All countries were present as well as I think probably the representatives for the mini boat teams. The mini boats were these cute little boats that were basically almost the same size as a 10-man boat, but with only four paddlers and a combined drummer/steer that drummed while sitting and steering with a foot pedal. I really wanted to try one of those boats but didn’t get a chance to before we left. At the same time as the World Cup, there was a separate mini boat regatta for Chinese university teams whose races were interspersed among the World Cup races.
During the meeting, the IDBF and CDBA (Chinese Dragon Boat Association) officials went over a few rules and information such as where the race course was, where to go for marshaling, etc. One important note that they mentioned was a reminder that the men’s crews were allowed to have a female drummer and/or steer. This rule was mentioned because while all other IDBF events feature mixed, women, and open crews, the World Cup was intended to have an all men’s crew in lieu of an open crew. However, due to this fact being extremely unclear and unspecified, several countries did not operate as such and brought female drummers/steers for their “men’s” crews, including Canada (Marcella!) and Germany. Australia raised a fuss about the whole thing as they had actually brought a male steer and drummer due to having been forced to use a male spare as their drummer at last World Cup when the all men’s rule was enforced. Fortunately for us, they were overruled (we did get confirmation in writing from the IDBF president ahead of time that we would be able to bring a female drummer, so we weren’t too worried). If Australia had had their way, we would have probably had to use Ben as a drummer or something, being the lightest guy present (skinny bitch club represent!). It did kind of suck for Australia, but I can’t say I felt all that much sympathy for them, as I’m still bitter about Junior B in Welland last year.
The biggest bomb that was thrown our way at the meeting was the newly mentioned practice races. Practice races, what? Races had originally been scheduled to start at 12:30. That was still the case, but in the morning, instead of resting up and getting ready for the afternoon, teams would have to participate in practice races. What are practice races, you may ask? Exactly what they sound like. Each of the first three heats consisting of all twelve teams participating in the World Cup was slated to race a different distance in a mock race for the organizers to work out any kinks ahead of the actual races. You’d think that they’d have thought to do that earlier, on a practice day or something. One of the heats would do the 100 m, one would do the 200 m, and one unlucky one would do the 500 m. Our heat got the 200 m, which wasn’t too bad, except then the organizers also told us that 2 crews (Canada and Macau) would ALSO be doing the 400 m relay. We would be the only two crews to have to participate in two practice races. Definitely not fair, but what could we do?
Races coming up soon!
P.S. This post was my 100th!