Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Wishing on a tree

Been there, done that, bought the fake designer t-shirt.

As we thumbed through various Hong Kong guidebooks and maps, mum and I realised there wasn't much that we hadn't seen before.

Rather than visit the same tired tourist spots, I searched the books for something new. I found an island called Ping Chau, two hours by ferry from the New Territories. The ferry left at nine o'clock in the morning and returned at five pm, leaving six hours to explore the tiny island and dine in its two noodle shops.

Luckily for both of us, I decided to leave Ping Chau for later and found something else that we hadn't done - the Tai Po wishing tree. I called Bee who is now back in Hong Kong with a foreign tourist of his own. The four of us met up in Mong Kok MTR station and got the train and bus to the wishing tree.

On arrival we looked at each other, thinking 'this is it?'.
'I didn't think it would be on the side of the road'
'I thought it would be on top of a mountain'
'I thought it would have more leaves!'

It was only minutes, however, before we were fully converted wishers.

The system works like this. First of all you buy a rolled up scroll of paper which is tied to an orange by piece of string about 50cm long.

After purchase, you write your wish on the paper and roll it up again using the string. You then throw your wish up into the tree. You have three chances to get it up and the higher it sticks, the better chance you have of getting your wish. If your wish doesn't get stick in the tree it probably means that you have been too selfish in your request.

Trying to get your wish in the tree was much more fun than I expected. It's not as easy as it looks and my first wish didn't get in at all. My second (less selfish) wish went in on the first throw, to much applause. Mum's wish came down and landed in an oil drum full of burning unsuccessful wishes. She ran over to rescue it from the flames but the orange had already come off and she was too late.

In total, I wished five times and got three in. One of the successes was debatable because it landed in scaffolding that was supporting the tree and not in the tree itself.

Watching others could be even more entertaining than wishing yourself. One woman had particularly bad aim and he first throw sent a group of teenage girls running. Her second wish came straight down on a man's head. Both wisher and wished upon were very embarrassed and the man kept walking as if nothing had happened.

I'm planning to go back soon!

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