Cheung Chau Bun Festival


Well, apologies… This blog post is almost a month later than I anticipated and I’ve slept a lot since 3rd May so this post might not be as thorough as I’d hoped.

I guess the fact I haven’t been able to sit down with the laptop and write this post is a good thing. I’ve been so busy and most free time has been spent binge watching take me out and first dates with my flatmate (yes, even in Hong Kong where there are countless exciting activities and adventures waiting outside the flat, sometimes you just need a day spent hungover in front of the TV).

Our Day at Cheng Chau Island

The Bun Festival celebrates the time that the image of Pak Tai, god of the North and patron of Fishermen, was paraded through the village and drove of the evil of a plague and problems with pirates.

The festival lasts three days but it is only on day three that there is a parade, and it is this day which is a public holiday and when the island is visited to see the festival.  On the first two days, and in the morning of the third day, only vegetarian foods are eaten.

We got the ferry to Cheung Chau Island from the central ferry terminals, pier 5. It took about an hour to get to the island on the ferry, which was just enough time for me to squeeze in some work as I had a deadline creeping up.

When we got to the island it was no surprise that food soon was at the forefront of our minds. This post is going to be mostly about what we ate on the day, so if you love food as much as me then this could be useful or just a mouth-watering read.

I’d been told in advance that we had to try the ‘spiral potato on a stick’, so that was our first food pitstop… What is there not to like about a deep fried crispy potato on a stick, sprinkled with a topping of your choice? (Mine being chilli powder). I’d be surprised if you didn’t like this, because for me it was bloody delicious!.. Which obviously meant it is defiantly terrible for the waistline!

If I’m learning anything out here, it is that it would be impossible for me to try and diet in Hong Kong. Food is everywhere and everything revolves around what you’re eating next, but I’m not complaining!

So, if you’re ever in Hong Kong, make sure you try is potato on a stick! Since my visit to Cheung Chau I’ve spotted the curly spud around HK island being sold at many street food stalls, so don’t worry, you don’t have to go to Cheung Chau to get your hands on this.

The second food stop was for ‘fish balls’. I’d been told by colleagues at work for ages that I needed to try them. Now I’ll admit they don’t sound the most appealing and they defiantly don’t look that appealing either. But despite being hesitant about trying these bad boys, I can honestly say they were quite nice.

These fishballs (as beautifully pictured below lol) were satay flavoured and cost HK$10 (about £1). They tasted a lot nicer than I expected, but I won’t lie, it’s hard to believe that these are 100% fish as the texture is so bizarre, so it seems that these are likely to be very processed.

The Star of the Show!

‘The buns themselves are a white flour yeasted bread dough with a small amount of sweet filling, normally lotus seed paste though other fills are also available, and stamped with edible inks with the symbol of the festival as a decoration on the top.  The buns are risen the steamed in big trays, due to the large number required during the festival the two main bakers near the temple have extra steamers and work non-stop for several days to produce enough.’

(To read more about the bun festival click here.)

As these buns are very much at the centre of the festival’s tradition, we all felt like we had to buy and try one. I had the steamed bun with a red bean filling and I can understand that these buns might not be to everyone’s liking as they’re quite stodgy and heavy, but in my opinion they are tasty.

As you have probably noticed there is a theme here… I am NOT fussy when it comes to food and I will eat and try just about everything and anything so it isn’t surprising I enjoyed everything I ate on this day haha.

Besides the food there were all sorts of fun and fascinating things happening on the island, from dragon dancing to an extravagant parade. Hundreds of people gathered in the streets for a view of the parade, which consisted of musical instruments, dancing and young children on extravagant floats.

The children were made to wave at the crowds of people, whilst stood on plinths, wearing what I can only describe as comical outfits which I assume were supposed to be famous people. It was like nothing I had seen before, and although we were scorching in the heat, it was lovely to be a part of the celebration and to see and appreciate the hard work and effort that had gone into making the costumes and organising the whole celebration.

It was a lovely day and I am hoping to go back to Cheung Chau again before I go back to the UK in September. It is brilliant if you want to escape and have a day amongst local food and traditions. My mum is coming to visit me at the end of June and I can’t wait to show her around Hong Kong and introduce her to all the unique and exciting things there are here.

I’ve been feeling very reflective recently and I still can’t believe what an amazing time I am having here in HK. I am truly loving every second and every day I am discovering something new, whether that be about Hong Kong or myself. Since I can remember I have wanted to travel/live in Asia and now I am essentially living the dream, I can defiantly say that it is everything I had hoped for and more.

Next week I am travelling to Bangkok to spend over a week with two of my close friends from University and I am SO excited! Not only am I fortunate enough to be ticking another location off the list, but I get to share whatever it is we’ll get up to, with two great people!

This is certainly turning out to be one hell of a year!


2 thoughts on “Cheung Chau Bun Festival

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