Weight of expectations proves too much for the 'jinxed' Wishing Tree

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 13 February, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 13 February, 2005, 12:00am

As far as bad omens go it probably doesn't get much worse.

The world-famous Wishing Tree near Tai Po - it even has a $2.8 million temple-style toilet to cater for tourists - is said to make dreams come true if you can throw your wish, written on red and gold paper and attached to an orange, into its branches.

Unless someone had written that they hoped the Wishing Tree would fall to the ground, an unfortunate event happened at 3pm in Lam Tsuen yesterday.

Overburdened with oranges and wishes the 8-metre main branch of the tree snapped off, injuring a 62-year-old man and a four-year-old boy.

Astrologer Gladys Mak Ling-ling said the incident was particularly jinxed as it happened in the Lunar New Year period.

'But if we look at it in a positive way, this could mean that something old has gone and new things are about to come,' said Ms Mak, adding that the tree had survived other tribulations in the past, including a fire in 1998.

The injured suffered head wounds and were treated at Tai Po Nethersole Hospital, a police spokesman said.

Despite the bad omen, others seeking good fortune were undeterred and continued to throw their oranges on to other branches of the tree.

Staff from the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department cleared the oranges from the tree after the accident. The broken branch was cut into pieces and removed from the scene.

Ms Mak warned that people living around the area needed to be more careful this year.

Despite its tribulations, people seem to have never lost faith in the good luck bestowed by the tree, whose legend has survived more than 100 years and is based on the story of a father who had his wish granted that his son become a brilliant scholar.

During the 2003 Sars crisis it still attracted crowds of people seeking protection from the virus.