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The Bun Festival

June 3, 2007

On our second day in Hong Kong, it was Buddha’s birthday. Traditionally, there’s a festival designed around the venerable Chinese bun on Cheung Chau Island, a beachy island about 45 minutes by ferry from Central. The buns, in case you’ve never seen one, are steamed bread dough with something in the middle – it can be sweet or not. They build towers of them, huge affairs, and people climb them. Now they choose the lucky ones who can climb up, but it used to be a free-for-all. We didn’t get to see anyone climb up, as that happens in the evening and we only held out until after lunch. There were millions of people crushed together everywhere we went, and it was extremely hot that day. Here’s a drawing of one of the smaller bun towers:

If you want to see an actual photo, you can look here.

There were also representations of the ancestors :

and shows going on all over the place. People crowd around to have a look, and the television cameras were all there filming. That night, back at the hotel, Michel switched on the local news channel and saw Claire and me in the crowd! It was tough to actually draw people, but I managed a few scribbles:

One of the shows was some elderly women doing kung fu :

We had to take a break after awhile, so we slipped down a side street, and I saw a tiny alley with absolutely no one around (something I would have thought impossible, given the crowds!)

Finally, we met some friends of Claire’s for lunch – the restaurant, while rustic, was mercifully chilly and the seafood and fish was pulled right out of a vivier next door before being very simply cooked. Michel had me quickly draw a fish head before he mutilated it, showing the Irish girls we were with that fish do indeed have cheeks, and that they are delicious.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. June 3, 2007 5:10 pm

    Casey – Great to see you back with so many sketches. I know how much dedication it must have taken to stop in the crowds and sketch. You have so many lovely sketches of people and the deserted alleyway is terrific. I can smell the smells, taste the tastes – thank you for sharing. I’m off somewhere myself tomorrow and if I feel any reluctance to make the effort to sketch in a crowd I’ll be spurred on by your fantastic example.

  2. June 3, 2007 8:38 pm

    Casey welcome back and what a feast! I adore your travel sketches and am patinetly waiting for the next installment. I especially love the river scene and the fish heads!!!! So nice to see your post this morning!!!

  3. June 3, 2007 9:41 pm

    What a treat to see these sketches. I’m amazed that you have been able to sketch so much under those conditions, but how wonderful they are! The bun mountain sounds amazing; I’ve never heard of that tradition.

  4. June 3, 2007 10:12 pm

    wow. what an exciting trip!
    thanks for your comments. why don´t you join in on the portrait party fun?

  5. June 4, 2007 6:06 am

    Welcome back casey! You have been so busy since you got back and posted some wonderful sketches…great to see HK through your eyes a bit. It sounds and looks like it was a wonderful experience! How great to go on a trip right here in my own chair..
    Ronell

  6. June 6, 2007 12:04 pm

    What a fantastic sketching effort – I think the deserted alley is my favourite. Your paint appears to give an interesting texture on the moleskine watercolour paper.

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