Taller wishing tree planned for Tai Po

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 January, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 January, 2009, 12:00am

A taller plastic wishing tree will be put up in Lam Tsuen this year to attract more tourists.

People used to throw offerings, messages or wishes attached to oranges into the branches of the wishing tree in Lam Tsuen, Tai Po, but the practice was stopped after two people were injured by a falling branch of the Chinese banyan in February 2005. It had been overburdened with offerings.

The government banned the tradition soon after the accident and fenced off the sick, century-old tree.

The tradition was revived this Lunar New Year as a plastic 4.5 metre tree was erected near the old tree, which is about 9 metres tall, to help visitors experience the fun of throwing their wishes.

Tai Po district councillor Chan Cho-leung said the 4.5 metre tree would be replaced by a 7 metre plastic tree in an attempt to bring in more tourists.

He said more than 10,000 people had visited the village on Monday and he expected more would come.

Jochen Weyrauch, a German who visited Lam Tsuen for the first time, said: 'It is interesting. It is different from the tradition in Europe, where we will write down our wish and won't tell anyone, or it won't come true.'

In Chinese tradition, if the wish stays up in the tree, the person's wish will come true.

Sharon Ng, who came with her five-year-old daughter Sammy Cheung Sum-ching, said: 'It is fun for children ... It is better than the real one.'

Another visitor, Soon Fung-ling, said: 'It is great ... It can revive the tradition and bring back the atmosphere of the festival.'

A vegetable and fruit stallholder, surnamed Li, in the village said business was better than last year thanks to a new car park and a carnival nearby.

'More people chose not to travel abroad and stayed in the city this Lunar New Year holiday, so we will probably do more business,' he said.

William Yau, a vendor of traditional Chinese candies, said business was good so far. 'The plastic tree has become the talk of the town. I heard visitors saying that they came after hearing news that a plastic tree had been put up here,' he said.

Ma Yu-sing, a stallholder selling windmills and snacks, said the plastic tree helped make the place livelier than before.