Where to find a dragon

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Sorry we’ve been offline for a while. It turns out that Internet access in the Far East isn’t the best, if it exists at all! In somewhat related news, the team at Holiday Lettings have kindly asked us to feature a guest post. Since it involves dragons AND we happen to be in Shanghai, what better time to post it!

The animation blockbuster How to Train Your Dragon has made taming a feisty flying beast seems like child’s play, and the recent sequel to the film does much the same. But there’s still a pressing question that needs answering before we can follow in the footsteps of Hiccup and his crew of dragon-loving Vikings: where do we find the dragons?
Dragons have played a leading role in folklore, myths and legends for centuries. They’ve lurked in the cavernous pits of Middle Earth, spent their days getting possessive about princesses in fairy-tale towers and revelled in frightening unsuspecting villagers with a single flap of their monstrous wings.

In Europe, dragons are known as malevolent, fire-breathing demons, terrorising villages and battling saints to the death. However, in eastern cultures they act in the power of good. In China especially, dragons symbolise wisdom, dignity and good luck, and are worshipped for their potent supernatural powers.

So is it possible to have your own fiery chariot to whisk you around the night skies, or is the dragon little more than a scorching hot urban myth? Holiday Lettings take a look at where to start your dragon hunt so you can find out for yourself.

Shanghai’s sleeping dragon

Photo credit: Peter Morgan from Nomadic (license)


Ok, so Shanghai’s busiest highway is not the most mythical place in the world. But back in the 1990s, engineers constructing the new, elevated road were baffled when their industrious diggers couldn’t penetrate the spot for its central pillar.

A priest was called in and, after much praying, declared the site home to a sleeping dragon. Before work could continue, the sleeping beauty needed a noble gesture, and so it was agreed that the column would be decorated with impressive golden dragons. The dragon was obviously satisfied with the gift as it wasn’t long until work recommenced.

Nobody’s ever heard a peep from the giant lizard since (and it’s worth noting that Shanghai city’s planning records offer a completely different story). But the cabbies and other locals love to share the tale.

The serpent that swallowed the moon

In ancient times in the Philippines they believed that a gigantic serpent determined the appearance of the moon. The fearful Bakunawa was said to launch out of the ocean and swallow the moon whole. At the time of a solar eclipse, a quick chomp on the sun would fill the monster’s belly.
Photo credit: Pawyilee via Wikimedia Commons


The locals started to take matters into their own hands by battering pots and pans outside their homes in a bid to scare the serpent away.

A dragon’s fiery gaze, Sardinia

Be careful where you look when exploring the countryside in Sardinia. The region’s local dragon, called a scultone, was known to kill humans with the power of its gaze. It was also immortal so is probably still prowling the bush today.

Race a dragon, worldwide

Dragon boat racing started out in southern China, supposedly to honour China’s first-known poet, and minister, Qu Yuan. The race has taken like a sea monster to water and spread throughout the world: dragon-shaped vessels are raced each year across Europe, the US, Canada and Australia. You never know – they could actually be racing against a real nemesis of the deep.

Photo credit: Carmichael Yepez via Wikimedia Commons


Dragon Hill in Uffington

Known for quaint, rural cottages, would you believe that the Cotswolds were once the stomping ground for vicious beasts? It was St George who put a stop to it all in Chipping Norton where he slayed the dragon on the later-named Dragon Hill. The hill is still bare to this day, reputedly because of the dragon’s poisonous blood.

Two-faced beasts in Eastern Europe

Whether a dragon is friend or foe depends on where you reside in Eastern Europe. In Slovakia the myths are full of vicious multi-headed critters, leaving a tortured path as they flame-grill the countryside. It’s a completely different story in nearby Serbia and Bulgaria: here dragons are your best pals, vehemently protecting the farmers’ crops against demons.

Indonesia’s real-life dragon

It may not fly or puff-out smoke, but the Komodo dragon is the world’s largest lizard and the closest we get to a living and breathing dragon. They can grow up to 3 metres long and weigh up to 150kg. After one venomous bite, the Komodo will stalk its victim – sometimes for several days – patiently waiting for the poison to take effect.

Downward spiral

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You might have noticed from the last post that I had started to begin feeling ill. Ian had already had a cold when he got on in the plane in London, but seemed to recover relatively quickly. I, on the other hand, started off feeling tired, which I put down to jet lag, and with a bit of a cough.

Over the next week it all became decidedly worse. Continue reading