Global rowers keep coming back

GEORGE TOWN: Having visited Penang several times before, Filipino Dominic Mahigab still craves the street food here each time he is back in town.

The 30-year-old fitness instructor and member of the Pyros Dragon Boat Team is participating in the two-day Penang International Dragon Boat Regatta 2023 (PIDBR 2023). Rowers from 14 countries are taking part in the event, which began yesterday, at Teluk Bahang Dam.

Mahigab said the first thing he and his team members did when they landed on Thursday was to go food hunting at Chulia Street and the Esplanade.

“My favourites are char koay teow, roti canai and ais kacang,” he said.

Mahigab’s team, consisting of 40 members, has been training since early this year, including a competition in Hong Kong in July. Mahigab is hopeful for a championship win this time.

Making their debut at the competition in Penang is the Random Jaffas team from New Zealand.

Team member Chris Stone, 45, said the team arrived three days ago and has been sampling the local food and sightseeing. He said the team was first invited eight years ago, but could not make it.“We are happy that we could come this year,” he said, adding that besides training hard, the members also have fun at times.

Wong Hon Wai, the state tourism and creative economy committee chairman, highlighted the growth of PIDBR, with 1,800 participants from 60 teams representing 14 countries, a significant increase from the previous year, in his opening speech yesterday.

“With this huge number of participants, coupled with the spectators, the two-day event will bring considerable footfall to Penang,” he said.

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the competition played a significant role not just as one of Penang’s dynamic sports event, but serves as a platform to promote cross cultural exchange. He said PIDBR 2023 provided a unique opportunity for mutual exchange and understanding as it brings together individuals from different countries and cultural backgrounds to share in the passion for dragon boat racing.

Student Matyas JC, 19, from the Czech Republic, who is visiting friends, said he was intrigued to find out about the dragon boat race.

“I was told that it is an annual event here, so I brought my family along as well to witness this race,” he said.

Matyas said he enjoys watching the event as there is no such race in his country.

German tourist Michel Baum, 35, said she was at the event to watch her husband who was representing a team from Australia in the competition.

“I have been following my husband all over the world, but this is my first time here in Penang. It is a great feeling and experience,” she said.

Baum said besides the race, she also enjoyed the good food and scenery in Batu Ferringhi.

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