Three years ago I made a wish.
It was Good Friday, 2010.
It was in Hong Kong, I was there for work- project managing an office move. We had four days to finish the premises, move a couple of tons of cheque processing transports, test them and get the client’s sign off.
Anyways, I found myself with the morning of Good Friday free. I’m not into religion per se, but while movers were loading things onto trucks, somehow it seemed right to mark Good Friday in some way.
My choice was a Taoist temple I had read about- Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple over in Kowloon.
One of the busiest temples in Hong Kong Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin is like a small village of colourful roofs and pillars and amazing lattice work.
The air hangs heavy with the smoke of hundreds and hundreds of sticks of burning incense.
People come here for the usual prayers and devotions. After buying a bundle of incense and lighting it from the flame,
the incense is held between both hands in prayer and then raised in the air before the temple Gods.
After bowing three times, the burning incense is then placed in the cauldron just outside the temple hall.
Others come here to have their fortunes told using the chim*, bamboo fortune sticks. Also known as chien tung or kau chim, each stick has a number and chinese character written on it that corresponds to a fortune or piece of advice.
Essentially you kneel on the cushions, concentrate on your question, shake the box of numbered sticks until one falls out.
The number on the bamboo stick is then matched to the corresponding number printed on tiny pigeon holes. Each contains a fortune printed in Chinese characters on thin slips of paper.
That paper is then taken to one of the many fortune-tellers lining the outside of the Temple and it’s meaning is told to you for free.
I did the incense thing.
I did the chim thing.
Behind the main temple is the Good Wish Gardens.
They say they when you go to Good Wish Gardens you have to be really, really sure that what you wish for is what you really want- because more often than not, wishes made here will come true.
As with all of these claims there is, of course, the fine print that your wish should be made with intent and focus… and not infringe on the happiness or free will of another.
As I was making those wishes in the colourful, hexagonal pavilion that is the Unicorn Hall in the Good Wish Garden, I did try to remember to be careful of what I wished for, that sometimes what we really want is not what we need. But then I closed my eyes and wished anyway.
After I made my wish, or wishes, I took my slip of paper outside to a little dried up man who was wearing so many sets of beads that they clinked in time with his steps. He grabbed the paper, looked at my palm and told me I would make my fame and fortune with a pen. He also told me that my wish would come true- that some things we fight are inevitable.
It hasn’t yet, but then again, I can’t swear that it was made with true intent and I did have so many hopes and dreams running through my head as I wished. Part of me was afraid of what I was wishing for. To be honest, I can’t remember clearly myself.
Maybe I need to go back…speaking of which- that’s what I wished for this morning:
YOUR LUCK FOR TODAY-
A number good is “Seventy-one,”
Cheerful news and lots of fun.
A rival strong and wealthy
Will try your plans to foil,
But never think of giving up,
You’ll win by patient toil.
Someone is taking advantage of information imparted by you
You will get your wish…
Take the MTR to Wong Tai Sin in Kowloon. Take exit B2 and follow the signs, the crowds and the incense sellers.
Buying your own chim…
I bought myself a really posh set of chim from Shanghai Tang in the Shanghai Tang Mansion in Central. There’s a few outlets now in Hong Kong and Kowloon. Check the website out for other locations.