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Learning English - Words in the News
16 May, 2005 - Published 12:56 GMT
Hong Kong's holy bun-fight back
The bun tower
The bun tower is made out of metal this year

At midnight, on Sunday 15th May, the island of Cheung Chau witnessed its first Bun Scramble since 1978. Chris Hogg reported live from the event:

Listen to the story

The tower of steamed buns, some eighteen metres high, which has been blessed by Taoist monks, is now being assaulted on all sides by climbers hauling themselves up on ropes. They're grabbing the buns and thrusting them into sacks.

This is a sight not seen in Hong Kong since the late 1970s. In the old days, this was a much more raucous affair, with anyone free to try to scramble up, climbing over each other and fighting for the best buns; the luckiest ones at the top. But after the towers collapsed in 1978, injuring more than a hundred people, the practice was stopped.

This event is more strictly controlled. There are even crash mats below for those who fall. But it hasn't dented the enthusiasm of those climbing up the sides or those cheering them on. The traditionalists complain the whole thing has been over-sanitised; safety concerns have robbed it of excitement but the crowd here seem to be loving it.

Chris Hogg, BBC, Cheung Chau

Listen to the words

hauling themselves up
climbing up the tower of buns by themselves and without any help

taking something in a rough way

thrusting them into sacks
putting them in their bags in a rough way, with lots of energy or force

the old days
the past

raucous affair
a loud and noisy event

crash mats
soft but firm pieces of material (used to stop people being hurt if they fall off something)

here, reduced the amount of excitement

here, made too safe

robbed it of excitement
made it boring and uninteresting

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