In Hong Kong I have travelled more to places that tourists mostly avoid or never ever heard of their names like Fanling or Tai Po. I do not regret this because I could see and understand better the culture and the way they live. I could tell that Hong Kongers are foodies and their cities are perfectly planned. I really do not know how they can transport such amount of people everyday, back and forth without major problems (just once it happened that the metro broke down but we just changed the kind of transport and got on a bus). Tai Po is a perfect place to have a local experience: there is a permanent market where they sell every kind of meat (if animal-right activists go there, they would get shocked), many small restaurants and locals.
Tai Po – 大埔舊墟
Tai Po is a new town, as Hong Kongers like to call it, in the New Territories located near the sea. Frankly there are no prominent landmarks or historical sites to visit nevertheless a visit around the town would not disappoint you. It is very lively, people are everywhere buying stuff or eating at restaurants. I really was amazed at the amount of people, I thought it was a half-deserted town but in Hong Kong you rarely can come across such sight.
We wandered aimlessly around the town centre, so I could improve my photography skills with the camera I stole from my boyfriend, when we came across a huge, red and shining sign on a skyscraper. We wondered what it was and asked my boyfriend. He replied saying that they were celebrating that skyscraper’s construction anniversary..so weird, it seems they are very enthusiastic about it ahah clueless on what to do, my boyfriend remembered that there was a restaurant that makes one of the best soup noodles in Hong Kong and has been longing to try since he had found it out.
We agreed to have a try! It turned out that the restaurant was very very small, like 10 seats inside, with a queue of 30 people outside, waiting to be seated and eat. It must be extremely yummy if everyone is willing to wait for so long outside just to eat that soup! After one hour, we finally got our seat. The menu was just written in chinese and they only served Noodles Soups, not that I complain, I love it xD
I could already tell that the dishes served here were delicious because a big guy in front of us ordered three portions of the same dish ahah The soup was, indeed, very tasty, the only thing I did not like was the cartilage, it is quite disgusting for me because it is way to soft so I did not eat it. Despite this, I must say the waiting time spent outside was worth it. The soup was really one of the best I have ever tried so far.
Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree – 林村許願樹
Having explored the city far and wide, skipping the sea promenade though, we decided to visit the nearby Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree, which I have read about on the app Discover Hong Kong. It was relatively near so we hopped on a minibus that brought us there in less than 30 mins. The place was in the middle of nature and no sight of skyscrapers around us. There were many small villages with some houses scattered around.
From the bus stop, we just turned and we saw a big chinese-style gate, marking the entrance to a sacred religious site. We passed through a walkway covered with plants and red wishing papers. The tree is located in the middle of a huge square, it was supposed to be a mandarin tree but the tree I had in front of me was a fake one. I was quite disappointed because from the photos it was huge and full of wishing papers but this one was relatively small, empty and fake! My boyfriend explained me that they had to move the other tree away because it was too heavy with all those wishing papers on it and was about to collapse.
Even though I did not make it in time to enjoy the real tree, making a wish is a real fun! You pay a small amount of money in exchange of a red wishing paper tied with a fake mandarin. What to do? You write on the paper your wishes and then throw it at the tree trying to make it grab to it at the first attempt otherwise your wishes will not come true. Of course I did not make it and had to throw it countless times but in the end I managed ? all people around me were having fun attempting to do the same.
Tin Hau Temple – 天后廟
Not far away from that huge square and on the way to the toilette – the reason why I found it out – there was an alluring temple dedicated to the famous chinese deity Tin Hau. As I said in my previous article, she is the goddess protecting fishermen and one of the most important female deities in chinese folk religion. It is tiny but very pretty and local since it is located in a so remote area where people hardly venture into.
The weirdest thing about the temple was that you could not burn incense. This is the first time I heard of this prohibition in a temple as burning incense is the way to pray gods in chinese folk religion. Nevertheless I could take some nice photos inside and avoid sneezing all the time due to the smoke and smell of the incense ahah It was also very rich in details and colorful, I loved all the chinese inscriptions and pictures outisde and inside.