September 12, 2016

The Fortuneteller, Careful Dragon and Big Boss

Reading horoscopes is about as close as I've tinkered with learning what lies ahead in my future, but given my recent birthday, I wanted to give Hong Kong's famous fortunetelling scene a shot. With my  local pals as guides, we went to Wong Tai Sin Temple in Kowloon, which is renowned for its accurate fortunetelling.

My Hong Kong experience has been either really hot or cold over the past few months and I'm eager to be done with my adjustment phase. So having a fortuneteller either a) reassure me or b) tell me I will live a brief and lonely life seemed appealing. (Spoiler alert: I'm not necessarily destined to Option B).

Chinese temples are beautiful but confusing.  I am not familiar with the prayers and practices within the Taoist temples and don't know any of the stories behind the symbols and shrines. It was key to have my friends with me to guide through the temple. 

I started by practicing kau cim. Kneeling down on the ground, facing the temple, I held a cup full of small, bamboo popsicle sticks  and silently introduced myself to the gods. Then I started to ask a question in my mind as I gently shook the cup. Somehow within a few seconds, a stick rose to the top and fell out of the can. 
Each stick has a number on it and can only be associated with one question. I asked a second question and a different stick rose up and fell from the cup. We wrote down the numbers and went to find a master who spoke English and who could tell me my fate.

There were two levels of fortunetellers, each with a small stall reminiscent of a farmers market. Unsurprisingly, there were some aggressive English-speaking soothsayers at the entrance promising a great price and extra discount. But suddenly I got really anxious about choosing one--I was about to open up my soul to a stranger and wanted that person to be wise and kind.

After a few laps, I settled on a woman named Priscilla who had some photos with local Hong Kong celebrities hanging in her office and #2 pencil-inked eyebrows. I sat down, introduced myself and got straight to it handing her the numbers from the bamboo sticks. She went to a large cubby on her desk and pulled out a small story in Chinese associated with each number.

Each question can only be asked for the 12 months ahead and I wanted to first know if I'm supposed to stay in Hong Kong and secondly, if I'll find true love. (I've since learned every good, single Hong Kong girl who's my age goes there to plead for a husband).

"The birds are happy because it is Autumn and there are no storms, so they are flying carefree in the meadow. Then they spot a hunter. The birds were quick enough to fly away and continue to be happy in the Autumn."

"Right. Ok," I said. "What does that have to do with me staying in Hong Kong?"

"You are the bird," she said. "You are smart, you see the hunter before he sees you, so you fly away and continue to be happy. Especially in Autumn, you are happy."

"Great, glad to hear you think I'm smart... but I'm not smart enough to understand this story."

"Avoid conflict and you will be happy," she said. "Hong Kong is good, don't leave."

It felt like a bit of a leap of assumptions she was making between that story and my situation, but I credit that to the language barrier. I'm sure it makes perfect sense in Chinese.

Then came the love question and an equally obscure answer:

"There is an Officer and a King. You are the Officer and you give the King a lot of advice. You always talk. Sometimes the King is annoyed. Are you single or in a relationship?"

"I'm not sure I follow, are the Officer and the King a couple?"

"Yes; so you have a Big Boss coming. He has many ideas and many resources and is probably very wealthy. But he doesn't like how much you talk. So the King one day sends the Officer on a train to somewhere far away."

This relationship sounds terrible, I thought. 

"I still don't get it -- is Big Boss a good guy? Is this a healthy relationship or no?"

Which cubby will hold your fate?
"It is your choice. Just don't boss him around and you will be happy."

Done with the outrageous legends, I decided to invest in a birth sign reading and a palm reading.

For both readings, she touched on the same key themes: career, love, fortune, family, health, etc.

The birth sign reading is based upon your date, time and location of your birth and is influenced by your present location. There are five elements that also influence the reading: water, fire, earth, metal and wood.

"Ah! You are fire! And this year and next year are fire years. These are very good years for you. However, your fire is small. Where do you live?"

"Wan Chai."

"Where do you work?"

"Wan Chai."

"I can't help you. This is no good. Wan Chai is a water sign and you  are fire. Water kills fire. You need to live somewhere else, like Stanley. Yes, move there and your fire will grow. Or Australia, that would be good, your fire will be very strong there."

She was referencing other areas of Hong Kong where I should go in order to maximize my fire strength. She said that I have a tired fire and it could be at risk of burning out, especially if I have cold food or drink. I'm only allowed ice cream immediately after a meal, when my body is warm, she said.

After a solid 10 minutes of hearing about how terrible my neighborhood is, she finally moved on to other key areas:

Career: marketing is my sweet spot, #ChaChing

Health: I'm set for a long life but will have bad circulation. Hello, compression socks for all those long-haul trans-Pacific flights.

Family: Kiddos are in the cards... at some point. Rest easy, mom.

Love: Again, the theme of the Big Boss emerged. This time, instead of simply being from the #39 cubby slot, it was written in my star sign.

"He'll have strong opinions and you should let him fret with the small decisions. He is older than you, but not younger and not six years older. You will always have work in your life, but waste no time in the next two years to find the Big Boss. If you don't find him by then, you wait 10 years."

Good grief, Priscilla, chill out, my grandma doesn't even pressure me that much! I thought.

"Don't worry, you are a true person and you have an open mind. Yes, true person. But sometimes too proud, don't be too proud and don't try to influence every decision and you will be fine."

Noted, Priscilla.

So Big Boss, if you're out there and reading this, my main lady Priscilla has offered me some brilliant material for Tinder, whose logo is--you guessed it--a flame:
Careful dragon with an open mind and a small fire, seeking a Big Boss who is not six years older than me. I'm a fire sign living in a water neighborhood. Don't worry, my feng shui is most likely still positive because my address' cross streets are derived from fire. If I could read Chinese, I could probably even find "fire" in their respective characters. Rest assured that I'm a low risk for being extinguished. C'mon baby, light my...well, you  know the rest.


  1. Great experience \ reading oh smoldering fire officer dragon !!!! Keep your hands off the ice cream just in case!!!!

  2. Great experience \ reading oh smoldering fire officer dragon !!!! Keep your hands off the ice cream just in case!!!!