Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Happy New Year from the Wishing Tree (and some blurry photos of carnival costumes)

Happy New Year!

Things will be slowly, slowly churning back into motion over the next few days. It's been a good few days, including some amazing fireworks (you can go catch the highlights on youtube, if you so wish) and I even found time to go visit the famous Wishing Tree at Lam (literally "forest") Village.

Recovering from the Weight of our Wishes
The Wishing Tree has had a long and glorious tradition. The process is simple: you write your wish on a bit of paper, attach a mandarin and throw. The aim is to get lodge the mandarin (wish and all) on the branches of the tree. It can be seen in many a Hong Kong drama, often in some sort of melodramatic scene where someone is tearfully and desperately hurling a mandarin into the tree (as it storms around them).

The original tree suffered from the weight of all our wishes (or more specifically, mandarins) and a branch broke in 2005. Since then, they've built a plastic tree for people to throw plastic mandarins at. The original trees are still alive and recovering, but I'm sure there's some sort of pseudoprofound metaphor about the state of modernity we can extract from that little story.

Around New Year, it seems, a market has sprung up around it (with the help of the tourism board). There have also been floats and Chinese Opera and many, many things. I was only there briefly to throw a plastic orange, eat traditional Hong Kong egg waffles and see Rampage Carnival (or that was what I caught their name as).

There is also the triple temple to Tin Hau (Queen Mother of the Western Skies), Long Mu (Mother of Dragons) and Man Mo (Twinned gods of Literary and Martial matters). Though it is clear who is favoured as only Tin Hau's section was bustling with worshipers.

There is also an award-winning toilet, I'm not sure why it's relevant, but it's definitely there. I'm sure it says something else that it's probably bigger than the temples in size.

(And here's a photo of me in a coat inspired by Georgian riding coats, with rose buttons and blackwork. It should get its own blogpost one of these days.)

All the best and there are some (blurry) photos of Rampage Carnival under the cut.

Egg Puffs! (aka Egg Waffles) It takes some skill to handle four skillets at the same time. It amused me that his skillets had a little crown etched onto the handle (since he is the "Great King of Egg Puffs", as per the sign.)

Hakka braised pork (and rice) cooked in traditional-seeming woks. There's a lot of other food about, including all of Hong Kong traditional street food.

The traditional Chinese Opera stage, too small for anything else it seems, but the open-air stage is rather too small as well.

This is where you hang your traditional style wishes should you wish them anywhere near the Original Wishing Tree. Wishes, it seems, come in two sorts now. There's the ones seen above, a bundle of thin printed paper, traditional-looking, replete well wishes and phrased as a lengthy petition to the heavenly bureaucracy. (You then write a more specific wish in a designated area on the form.)
The other sort is printed on pink card, with a very modern typeface. It features tick boxes next to rather more standard seeming well-wishes.
So as you can tell, making forms of wishes has been something of a tradition around here. But somehow still I like tick boxes less.

The Welcome Sign outside Lam Village

And finally, this was pretty awesome. Also hats off to the dedication of the performers who are doing this in 8°C. I didn't expect to see this and it really cool. Though I can't help but wonder how such costumes would stand up to the rigours of a larp event.

1 comment:

  1. It was last year when I also wrote my wish on a bit of paper, attached a mandarin and threw it on the wishing tree which is included in the photo gallery of your blog. I miss the feeling of doing it. The ambiance of the place and seeing the carnival costumes are the few things I like when I spent New Year on that place.


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