Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Buns of Steel

Mountain athletes! Have your sponsors been pestering you with “what have you done for me lately” questions? Maybe you could be the first Westerner to climb in Honk Kong’s two-century-old bun-scrambling contest. This ritual is held on the island of Cheung Chau to commemorate the death of islanders in the 18th century from bubonic plague. Competitors race up the bun-covered tower, sntaching as many rolls as they can from designated areas within the time limit. Legend has it the sweet buns were supposed to cure illness, but they weren’t too healthy for competitors in 1978, when a bamboo tower collapsed and injured 100 participants and spectators. The contest was banned by the British authorities in Hong Kong for the next 26 years. But with Hong Kong back in Chinese hands, bun climbing is back, baby!

The contest is May 24, and applications are being accepted now. It’s not clear if non-natives are welcome. On the other hand, foreigners were banned from Nepal’s mountains until 1950, so don’t let that discourage you. Hillary bagged Everest—who will be the first Westerner atop Mt. Sticky Roll?

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