12 scramble for glory in annual festival
Cheung Chau may be famed for its legends of buried pirate treasure and sumptuous seafood, but it is an annual scramble for plastic buns that attracts most attention.
The midnight race attracted just over 200 applicants this year, who battled it out in a series of heats earlier this month before the final 12 competitors were selected.
In the early hours of yesterday morning, nine men and three women clambered to the top of a 14-metre cone-shaped metal tower to see how many buns they could bag in three minutes.
The competition was revived in 2005 after a 27-year hiatus triggered by the collapse of one of the bamboo towers which injured dozens of people in 1978.
It took months of negotiations to bring the decades-old tradition back to the island with the Leisure and Cultural Services Department funding the competition.
This year, the event cost HK$1.74 million to stage, up from HK$1.59m last year.
The tower cost just under half a million to construct and was studded with 9,000 plastic buns.
The department re-used 4,000 buns from last year so the bun budget was HK$45,000 for the additional 5,000 buns.
Spectators craned their necks to watch the frantic and frenzied race which sees the climbers race to the top of the tower where the most coveted buns - those with green stamps and worth nine points each - circle the apex.
Directly below them are 1,700 yellow buns worth three points each and down the bottom there are 6,400 red buns worth one point each.
Approximate number of tickets for the final, held at midnight, given out yesterday, up from 1,500 last year