Friday, February 19, 2010

Wishing Tree

On Wednesday we braved the chilly weather to take two buses to a village called Lam Tsuen.Our destination was a popular tourist attraction called The Wishing Tree. We've heard that it is usually crowded during the Chinese New Year holidays, but there were only a few people milling around the park with us. 

We liked looking at the souvenirs and snacks for sale in the different booths.

Craig went inside this Tin Hau Temple, which was built during the era of the Qing Dynasty for T'ien Hou, Queen of Heaven who looks after sailors on the seas.

This is the famous original Wishing Tree.
Legend says that once there was a villager with a son who had learning problems. He made a wish while worshipping under the tree, and his son's academic performance improved dramatically. Word spread and people started flocking to the tree to make their own wishes. In early 2005, a branch fell off the tree, injuring two people. It is in a very fragile state now, so branches have to be propped up with poles to keep it erect.

In 2009 this new seven-metre tall fibreglass tree was installed in order to allow visitors to continue with the practice of tossing wish messages into the tree.

Making a wish is not free. To make a wish, one needs to first buy a "bao die."

A "bao die" has a red paper on which you write your wish. The paper is then tied to a plastic orange.

The orange is then tossed up the tree until it clings to a branch. Some people say that it is better not to throw the “bao die” more than three times. If you are still unsuccessful after three tries, you are said to have made your wishes too greedy.

After watching a few people throw oranges, we saw a crowd near this little booth and moved in for a closer look.

It was a child's wading pool filled with water and tiny goldfish. For a small fee, you could have a turn trying to catch the fish in the specially designed nets. Sound easy? It was harder than we thought! The nets were actually made with flimsy tissue paper. Once in the water, they dissolved quickly. We found that the trick was to go for the smallest fish, scoop it up gently so as not to tear the tissue, but fast enough to catch the fish before the paper dissolved.

During our turns we used eight nets and managed to catch four goldfish. We were told we could take the fish home if we wanted. The stall operators must have seen the horrified look on my face, as they promptly handed over three lollipops instead.

More posing with their lollipops.

Can you see the duilian?

Near the Wishing Tree park we walked past some floats that were on display after being used in the Chinese New Year parade.

This walkway is known as "The Wishing Corridor". It provides an alternative place to hang your wishes if slinging them into a tree is too demeaning or strenuous for you.

You can see this person's wish: to be lucky and prosperous.

You can also write your wish in an even more public fashion on this enormous banner.

Or you can beat on a drum or ring a bell for good luck.

There are also wooden racks available for joss papers to be hung.

Time to go home...We were glad to have experienced another aspect of Chinese culture. It also generated a good family discussion about how all these people buying wishes, tying them to oranges, and throwing them into a tree could simply talk to the Lord in prayer.

One last photo of the Harvey family at Lam Tsuen.

1 comment:

  1. Renee, you should take up fishing :-)