This Valentine’s Day, Ry and I visited the Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree in Tai Po, as it was the final day of the two-week Well-Wishing Festival over Chinese New Year.
We arrived to be greeted by rows of stalls selling miscellaneous New Years bits and bobs, along with some pretty unappealing odours coming from the food booths…
In we go!
Many tables were laid out for friends and families to get together for basin meals, also known as Poon Choi, which we mentioned in our previous post. In case you missed it, this refers to a big bowl of food in the middle of the table filled with layers such as: pork, bean-curd, squid, pig-skin, dried mushroom, chicken and fish-balls. The dish is kept on a small stove and eaten on special occasions, such as Chinese New Year.
Singers and performers also graced the stage, giving off a very celebratory feel!
Red lanterns tied to a banyan tree.
In the past, local villagers would throw joss paper into one of the two ‘wishing trees’ during festivals. The belief was that the higher the branch that the joss paper landed on, the more likely it was that the wish would come true.
However as the trees now attract tens of thousands of local citizens and tourists every year, measures have been introduced to protect the wishing trees from being buried in paper.
Nowadays, wishes are either tied to nearby wooden racks or thrown onto imitation trees.
We bought our wishing cards tied to a plastic orange and wrote down our wishes.
I went for the heart shape (seeing as it’s Valentines Day n’ all), while Ry went for the horse (the zodiac animal of the year).
Turns out throwing a piece of paper attached to a plastic orange onto a tree is incredibly difficult!
It took many, many attempts, but we didn’t give up and both managed to get our wishes up there!
Please excuse my celebratory ‘dance’ at the end of this video…
So many wishes!
After our exercise for the day, we explored the area a little more…
The bamboo ceiling was filled with these gorgeous lanterns!
Around the corner, we found the Tin Hau Temple, which was built in the 18th century during the Qing Dynasty!
Tin Hau is the Goddess of the Sea, mostly worshipped by those whose lives are tied to the sea; therefore temples that honour her are found in abundance in Chinese coastal communities throughout Asia.
Although I didn’t photograph these, there was a Man Mo Hall, dedicated to both the God of Literature (Man) and the God of War (Mo). On the other side was the Temple for Justice, built in honour of 12 noble-hearted men who protected the Lam Tsuen villages during less peaceful times.
Ryan described his Wishing Tree experience as “a lame plastic tree that’s surprisingly entertaining for $20. There was a happy atmosphere, where you get a real sense of joy from everyone taking part.”
I agree that it’s quite a fun experience, but I wouldn’t feel the need to go again. So we popped back on the bus and made our way over to TST for dinner.
Although we had initially planned to have dinner in Knutsford Terrace, all of the restaurants were only serving overpriced Valentines meals. 😦
Fortunately we managed to find somewhere that wasn’t going to rip us off…Indonesia Restaurant. Walking up the stairs, we were welcomed to a bustling restaurant that felt cosy without being overcrowded – perfect!
We ordered: beef satay skewers, squid curry, a pork and prawn fried rice, seafood with mixed veg and an unlimited helping of boiled rice.
The food was delicious, great portion sizes and value for money! Plus the atmosphere and service was excellent, so we’d definitely recommend a visit!
So that concludes our Valentines Day – how was your’s?!
Let us know in the comments section ^.^