I am not superstitious yet I’m fascinated by fortune telling using sparrows in Temple Street.
I am still figuring out how do the tellers control the birds.
Literally everything from daily lives. There are also streetwalkers haggling over prices outside their tiny rooms, soothsayers foretelling the future in front of worried people, and Cantonese opera trying hard with their throats in exchange for a few bucks.
Outdoor food stalls (Dai Pai Dong) being packed with people who are basically sitting on the streets with their Chinese version risotto and big bottles of Tsingtao beer. Of course, old men placing bets on chess games just outside public toilets, too.
I had been so enthralled by Temple Street.
Dozens of illustrious Hong Kong movies have Temple Street in the sequences.
I do not go to Temple Street often.
It’s just identical to other night markets at various regions.
And they are literally vending stuff which are very much alike.
Except that the ambience here is more of an “ordinary Hong Kong people” one.
In addition to all sorts of stalls,
you can also see there the grey-haired singing Cantonese opera.
Unfortunately, it is not allowed to take photos there;
You can find miscellaneous local food, like the famous Hing’s claypot rice.
Also, couples of the outdoor stalls even provide karaoke services.
I heard some foreigners passing by pointed at the stalls and yelled,
See? Hong Kong Karaoke!
I bursted into laugher.
And among those if I have to single out the most noteworthy type of stalls, it would be fortune telling.
Those stalls are filling up the whole street.
That day, I was looking for some fun to kill time,
I sauntered to a passageway of Temple Street.
I could see a bunch of fortune tellers here.
You may anticipate that the fortune tellers are all grizzled.
In actuality there are quite some youthful fortune tellers there.
And the customers have a propensity to visit those young fortune tellers.
I surmise that is because the young ones know how to use social media such as facebook to promote themselves.
And for the older ones,
some of them are trying hard to get more customers,
some of them are just sitting at their stalls and watching people passing by.
They have countless divergent ways to scry here.
There are traditional palmistry, Chinese horoscopes, and even the fashionable tarots.
I decide to give it a try on a whim.
I have picked a very uncommon stall, which provides a forgone way of fortune telling.
That is, a sparrow is going to scry for me.
When I sit down,
although having realised I am the only customer in her deserted stall,
she does not show much hospitality.
“So what do you want to ask?” she asks gently.
“I want to check on my career.”
She manages a dead pan expression, “Please tell me your date and time of birth.”
I tell her the required facts.
Then, she turns to that sparrow,
Birdie~Birdie~There is a mister in front of you.
Please help him to look at his career in the coming year.
Then she opens the cage,
the sparrow hops out.
In front of it are some cards aligned horizontally.
The fat bird bounces back and forth in front of the cards,
then it draws one with its beak.
The fortune teller takes the card and
she feeds the bird as a reward.
She shows me the card and says,
“So you see, the bird got your Zodiac sign correctly?”
I am trying hard to figure out how did the bird get my Zodiac sign right.
“So only the bird, you and me know your sign here.”, says the fortune teller haughtily.
I smile and do not rejoin.
“Okay… So let’s talk about your fortune…”
Then she goes on with her fluent explanations .
My fortune is not the main point here.
The main point is, I am amazed – In what ways was the bird trained?
The fortune teller indeed knows my Zodiac sign (She can get it as long as she knows my year of birth).
Howbeit, how did the bird make the right choice?
I did not notice any signal the fortune teller was giving.
And after the soothsaying the sparrow was so obedient and went back to the cage.
So how accurate is that fortune telling?
I can only tell you next year.
There are many different kinds of people here in Temple Street.
There are night markets which are actually started in the afternoon.
In the market nearby, you can see many live chickens waiting to be slaughtered.
Besides all of these and the fortune telling stalls,
there are also many sex workers standing there, waiting for customers.
Often they need some minutes to bargain with those men coming up to them.
Then the customers will follow them and head to their tiny rooms to “trade”.
Having said that, it is still relatively safe here.
Temple Street is definitely a great place to experience the local atmosphere of Hong Kong.
Victor Tai | Freedom is a Right
- LocationTemple Street, Hong Kong
- CameraCanon F-1 / FD 28mm f1.8 S.S.C
Canon 3 / EF 85mm f1.8
- Other Language繁體中文