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  • See Hong Kong's thrilling Bun Festival this spring

    2012-03-12

    If travelers have an appetite for foreign cuisine and unusual traditions, they should not miss an Asia travel adventure this May to the island of Cheung Chau in Hong Kong. For decades, this small locale has hosted an annual festival that pays respects to local traditions and also helps satisfy everyone's appetite, from residents to visiting participants.

    The Bun Festival is in celebration of Pak Tai, the god of the sea in the Taoist religion, according to the Hong Kong Fast Facts website. People from all over the island gather together to perform customary dances, dress in colorful costumes and sing in operatic shows. But the main event is the 60-foot-high towers made of bamboo and covered in doughy white buns.

    In the past, brave residents would scale these structures and eat buns as they climbed to appease the gods. However, officials realized this may not be the safest way to worship, so now some the buns are passed out to the crowds at the conclusion of a big procession through the city streets. The rest of the treats are on special towers reinforced with metal scaffolding to keep everyone safe.

    The procession includes floats created by various neighborhoods that prepare for the event for months. Travelers may see quite the show if they attend this parade, as some children are placed in chairs that are affixed to very tall poles as the floats drive by.

    There are many other rituals that occur during The Bun Festival that guests may observe while in Cheung Chau. The entire locale goes vegetarian for three days during the festivities, and guests who wish to consume meat have to leave the island during this time, reports The Circumference blog. However, this does not detract from the tasty array of culinary offerings, which include mushroom burgers and, of course, the vegetarian buns.

    Travelers on the mainland can easily reach this region, which is the smallest of Hong Kong's islands. There are daily ferries that will take guests to and from Cheung Chau in less than an hour. Not only will the festival be taking place in May, the island is also ideal for catching some rays, as the beaches are public and allow space for swimming and sunning.

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