Living heritage of Hong Kong

Cheung Chau Bun Festival scramble fan favourite fails to secure ‘Queen of Queens’ title after surprise disqualification

Climber Wu Wing-yu crowned new champion after two-time winner Angel Wong does not complete race in time

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 May, 2018, 10:25pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 May, 2018, 4:57pm

Five-time Hong Kong bun scrambling champion Angel Wong Ka-yan failed to secure the coveted status of “Queen of Queens” at this year’s final showdown after suffering an unexpected defeat.

Despite being a fan favourite at the annual Cheung Chau Bun Scrambling Competition since 2013, Wong was unable to make it to the ground within the event’s three-minute time limit and was disqualified.

There were fewer surprises in the men’s division, with veteran front runner Jason Kwok Ka-ming beating eight other competitors with a score of 1,044.

“I was pretty nervous as I got beaten to the top early in the contest,” he said after the contest. “With a minute left, I was still somewhere in the middle, but I looked up and there were still others above me, so I made use of the time to get down and prevent a DQ (disqualification).”

Kwok, a fireman and Cheung Chau native, has been champion seven times since 2005. He won last year’s final with 924 points.

With Wong’s unexpected disqualification, the title of “bun scrambling queen” went to her fellow professional climber Wu Wing-yu, who took the win with 294 points.

“I’m thrilled about winning for the first time,” said Wu, who was competing in her fourth contest.

“My strategy was to play it safe and make it down in time. But my score was a bit low, so I will need to strengthen my conditioning, and I hope to get better results next time.”

Wu said Wong’s disqualification had come as a surprise to her as Wong was a “very experienced and strong opponent”.

Wong, a climbing instructor, has won the final five times since 2005, and her record has been unbroken since 2013. 

She blamed her loss on bad time management and a problem with her harness, though she also admitted she had been “having too much fun” on the tower.

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“I got a bit too playful,” Wong told reporters after the race. “I kept grabbing buns, collecting [points] and just couldn’t get myself to leave. In the last 10 seconds, I realised I was stuck and was not able to get down in time.”

The veteran said she would not be giving up after the defeat.

“It’s a bit [disappointing], but it will give me the motivation to try again, win more gold and make another attempt for that ‘Queen of Queens’ trophy.”

Organisers came up with the “Queen of Queens” and “King of Kings” titles in 2016, for climbers who managed to secure three consecutive championship wins.

The annual contest traditionally begins at midnight to cap off a day of parades and celebrations at the five-day bun festival. Contestants have to scramble up a 14-metre bun tower and bag as many replica buns as they can within three minutes. Buns placed higher on the tower are worth more points. 

Climbers who fail to have two feet on the ground when time is up are disqualified.

The competition has its roots in a ritual started in 1894 to appease the spirits of islanders killed in a plague, and it was revived in 2005. The event had been banned for 27 years before that after two bun towers collapsed mid-race in 1978, injuring 24 people.