The Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree is a popular tourist spot and while it is particularly busy at Chinese New Year it is open to visitors all year round. It opens from around 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m and is well worth a visit.
To get there you can take the 64K KMB bus from either the Tai Po terminus, or pick one up at the Tai Wo MTR Station. Alternatively, you can take the 25K Green minibus, also from Tai Wo. Alight at the Fong Ma Po bus stop and on the opposite side of the road you will see the entrance to the Wish Tree area.
After crossing Lam Kam Road you get your first clear look at the Wishing Tree.
The following photos show the sad state of the tree. For details read on.
In 2005 there was an accident in which a branch, overloaded with prayer requests broke away from the tree and injured several worshippers. In order to stop worshipers from throwing their prayer requests on the branches of the tree Prayer Racks were set up. There are several throughout the complex.
Sadly, it appeared to have been too late for this tree.
The Lam Tsuen Well-Wishing Festival
In 2011, the management of the Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree in collaboration with the government started the Well-Wishing Festival. The celebration attracts many thousand visitors to the area that include both local people and tourists from all over the world.
The festival is traditionally held during Chinese New Year on the 15th day of the first month in the lunar calendar and there are various activities, including the lighting of wishing lanterns to celebrate new born babies and ensure their health and future prosperity.
The traditional method of making a wish was to write your personal particulars and desires on a piece of yellow paper and tie it to an orange. The orange was then thrown into the branches of the tree. Originally, real oranges were used and as a result of this, the original Wishing Tree, a very old banyan, is sadly in a poor state. As mentioned, in 2005, worshipers were injured by a falling branch that was apparently overloaded by prayers and offerings.
A great deal of time, effort and expense was taken to save the tree (please see the earlier photo of the plaque). This also led to the purchase of a plastic replacement tree and the introduction of plastic oranges. Also, alternatives methods of making wishes were introduced such as the Prayer Racks.
Today, there are actually four wishing trees and each one is used for specific needs. The first tree brings good fortune in your career, academic pursuits and wealth. The second tree is for couples who are about to be married, and also those praying for a healthy pregnancy.
For those of us who want to pray for general needs other than those already mentioned, the third tree is available. However, it is the fourth tree which is believed to be the most special as it brings good fortune.
This tree is the plastic replica of the original wishing tree, some 25 feet (7.62 Metres) in height. As mentioned, in order to make their wish, worshipers write their personal details and wishes on a piece of yellow paper. This paper is then tied to a plastic orange (plastic oranges are lighter than real ones) which it then thrown into the branches of the tree. If the orange containing your wish successfully catches in a branch then it is a good indication that your wish will be granted. If, however, the orange falls to the ground it is thought that your wish was too greedy.
Interestingly, there is no limit on how many times you can retrieve the orange and try again. Apparently, perseverance is thought to be a good trait amongst the worshippers. It is not uncommon for persons standing on one side of the tree to be struck by an orange thrown from the opposite side. Fortunately, few people are actually injured, which is obviously another benefit of using plastic oranges.
There are other things to see at the location, one of them being the Lam Tsuen Cultural Centre which is located at the far end of the Wishing Tree area.
And to the left of the Cultural Centre is the Temple to the Goddess Tin Hau.
Just to the right of the temple is the Fong Ma Po Public Toilet, which, interestingly, echoes the grandeur of the surrounding buildings.
Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, the festival was canceled in 2021. Hopefully, as restrictions are being eased it will be permitted nest year.
The Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree is definitely worth a visit but I suggest you go after 10 a.m. to ensure that the staff have opened up the area leading to the replacement tree. And, as an added benefit there are great restaurants just opposite where you will be able to get lunch and refreshments. All-in-all, the Wishing Tree offers a great day out for the family, not to mention newly weds and students hoping to get good results in their exams.
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