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Hong Kong: The Wishing Trees of Tin Hau Temple and 10,000 Buddhas

Updated: Jun 10, 2019

Wishing Trees, Tin Hau Temple, Hong Kong

I traveled Hong Kong for the first time this May. My daughter had been studying at the Chinese University in Sha Tin.

Though she was more than capable of getting herself home, I used the excuse of collecting her to visit this thriving island city.

Once again, I consulted Atlas Obscura. I was keen to stay close to my hotel, so I needed to find some spectacular to see near Sha Tin. I decided to visit the Wishing Trees of Fong Ma Po village, Lam Tsuen.

The Tin Hau Temple, built during the Qing dynasty around 1768, is a popular shrine and attraction during the Lunar New Year. Visitors burn joss sticks and toss wishes into four banyan trees.

The first tree is for financial success, the second for personal happiness and the third for anything your like.

The fourth tree, a 25 foot plastic wishing tree is for Bao Die, or Chinese wishes. Worshippers write their names and wishes on yellow tissue, and tie these to an orange. They then chuck the orange at the tree. If the orange stays in place and hangs, your wish is sure to come true. The plastic tree replaces a natural tree that became so laden with wishes it's branches fell off. One branch injured an old man and a young boy, now that is bad luck.

I took the East Rail Line to Fong Ma Po. From there I should have taken a bus, but I chose to walk instead. I admit it was a very long walk.

There were a plethora of ebikes discarded into the street side scrub, and I considered downloading the app and grabbing a bike. Alas, it was too hot and humid to stop for the five minutes it would have taken me to do this. I pressed ahead.

Discarded Buddha statues along the highway

It took about an hour to walk from the station to Lam Tsuen, and I must admit that there was little to see on the way.

When I arrived at the temple, finding the plastic tree in the middle of a parking lot was a big disappointment.

An archway of branches, bending with wishes was quite pretty, but there was not much else going on. This must be a place only worth visiting during a holiday or celebration. There was no one selling Bao Die, so I tucked a paper wish into some fencing and hailed a taxi out of there.

That afternoon, my debacle at the Wishing Tree made me more determined for successful sightseeing. After a quick outfit change in the enjoyment of my air conditioned room and I set off to see the 10,000 Buddhas.

This monastery perches on a wooded hillside overlooking Pai Tau Village, Sha Tin. It was hot and humid and I was so happy to see that the monastery was reachable by escalator! How civilised!

But the further up the hill I got on the escalator, the further I seemed to be getting from the red pagoda that dominates the hillside complex. It was only after I reached the top that I realised I was actually in the Po Fook Columbarium, which is a storing place for cremated ashes.

I had to descend the hillside, walk around the block to find the entrance to the 10,000 Buddhas, then ascend the hillside again. This time without the benefit of an escalator or funicular.

Dozens of life-sized Buddhas flank the hillside path up the hill. They seem to be cheering you on, as you struggle up the steep steps in 100% humidity. At times I felt they might be mocking me, but the kitschiness of the statues made me chuckle during my solitary climb.

There are over 12,800 miniature Buddhas lining the walls of the main temple. The complex includes further temples, shrines and pavilions, including the 9-story red pagoda.

Being laughed at by 10,000 Buddhas

The temple is about 500m northwest of Sha Tin MTR station.

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