Dragonboating - it's a sport (kind of) known across the world (maybe). But here in Hong Kong, it's a whole new type of beast. In fact - It's so ingrained in our culture that we've dedicated an entire day to it (yes - it's a public holiday here....sorry guys).
I recently worked up the courage to join a dragon boat team here in Hong Kong...and I'm annoyed I haven't done so sooner. Not only has it made me feel more in tune to a Hong Kong tradition I've so far been quite absent from, but it's changed the way I work and feel whenever I step through those Salt doors every morning.
The two points I pulled from an article really sum it up nicely:
1) It's exploded my network
Of course - you connect with people from your own team... but that's just the tip of the iceberg. Think about it: You're part of at least 3 or 4 races each season. Each race has around 100 teams participating, all with at least 30 members. Plus, it's not always the same teams coming to each race day. You do the math (because quite honestly I don't want to...that's too much for my brain to handle on a Friday evening)
Dragonboating here is (surprisingly) a very international sport - with many teams even consisting of only expats and "foreigners". I've met people from junior levels all the way to MDs of different organizations. This is also at a much more personal level than any networking event you can think of - where business cards get dealt out like playing cards in Vegas.
2) I feel much fresher and ready for work
Tell you what: While it can be a grind - to me there is no more rewarding, yet calming feeling than grabbing my paddle and heading to the beach on a Thursday night, ready for my weekly training session. Our office is smack-dab in the middle of Hong Kong - amongst all the hustle and bustle the city has to offer. Even though it's hard work, it provides such a sense of calm being out on the water, letting out the days frustrations through a paddle and into the sea. You feel tired, yet ready and energized for the next day. The steady rhythm of the paddle strokes also has a very hypnotic and calming effect (well at least for me)
Plus - because of the plankton in the water, it glows a bright green when your paddle digs its way through. MAGIC!
So to sum up.... join a dragon boat team! If you can't - join a football team. Or a hockey team. Or a rugby team. Or a tennis team. (You see where I'm going with this?)
The benefits I've experienced so far are so rewarding and I should have done this a long time ago. Plus it leaves you with a toned upper body and rock hard abs. Winning!
- A break from the skyscrapers - Busting out of work, grabbing my gym bag and paddle and hustling over to practice may seem chaotic at times, but there is nothing more rewarding then jumping into that boat and paddling away from that skyline at night. Even if it’s just one short hour, giving yourself a mental break from the craziness of the city lights can give you the sanity to make it through the rest of your working week. - Meeting new people - Who doesn’t love the camaraderie of team sports? Paddling has been the perfect way to increase my circle of active, adventurous and like-minded people. Aside from dragon boating, there’s always a pick-up game, a hike or beach volleyball match to jump in on with your new teammates too.