Fortune-Telling on the Mountain

Back in January 2017, I was in the beautiful mountain area of Jiufen when I had my first experience with fortune-telling.

It was a day with strong, chilly wind blowing and a really annoying, prolonged drizzle. Despite being uncomfortable from the elements, I find the place to be quite charming.

Watch your steps!
Wet day. Slippery, narrow, mountain roads.

There are tonnes of raincoats-wearing tourists everywhere; more arriving every minute by the busloads. The mountain road leading up to this popular destination, seems a little too cramped for the huge coaches. It must be harrowing for the passengers on one of those tour buses en route to Jiufen, when the driver drives too close to the edge.

Unfortunately, I was unable to snap too many pictures of the town since it was raining and I did not want to get my camera/ phone wet. Besides, I had a massive umbrella to carry.

However, I did take this picture of this manhole cover. Look at how wet the ground is!

I remember seeing umbrellas of all colours and sizes, colliding into one another, as their owners try to squeeze their way through the narrow lanes with quaint little shops.

It is a scene that I find hauntingly beautiful.

According to RR, my beloved constant companion, Jiufen is not what it is used to be. Much of its past charisma has been lost because of tourism. Things are a lot more commercialized now.

Please don't turn me into a pig.
“Spirited Away”-esque!

We squeezed our way through the horde of holidaymakers and continued walking further through the town.

When we found ourselves deep within the quiet residential area of the town with nobody else in sight, we chanced upon this fascinating tea house.

My first impression of this tea house is that it has a “Spirited Away” vibe to it. Then, I was immediately concerned with the old, wooden support of this building, as the building was erected on a steep mountain slope.

Jumping at the opportunity to get out of the freezing, wet weather, we walked right in for a little rest and refreshment.

A sleepy-looking man welcomed us at the entrance.

The interior of the tea house felt really cosy especially with the shower and frigid wind outside. Everything used or displayed has an antique feel to them.

There were no other customers around. We took a little time to walk around this ancient tea house, deciding on a table to sit at. Finally we picked a table on the 2nd floor, right next to a window (closed, of course). Our patient attendant then handed us the menu and gave us a moment to ourselves to go through it.

Browsing through the menu, RR noticed that free fortune-telling is offered with every order of a pot of tea. Since we had a few of hours to kill and the rain did not look to be slowing down anytime soon, we decided to have our fortunes told.

After ordering a pot of Chinese tea and a couple of snacks from the friendly man, whom we believe is the owner of the tea house, we settled down and got comfortable in the warmth of the age-old joint.

A short wait later, the boss (sorry, I cannot remember his name. Since at this point we realised that he is the owner, I will refer to him as the boss from now.) brought us our order. With it, he quickly taught us the traditional steps of making and enjoying Chinese tea.

At one point, he claimed that drinking tea this way is a good way to cultivate one’s patience. Baffled by all the steps and apparatus needed to produce a tiny sip of tea, I must say I agree with him; it is indeed a test of patience.

We chatted with boss man for a while, asking him about the history of his tea house. Then we asked if he would tell us our fortunes which he graciously consented.

The book looks very similar to these.

He retrieved his fortune-telling equipment; a modern brush pen, some scrap pieces of paper and an aged, authentic-looking Chinese manual book with blue cover. What kind of secret lies within the book?

The whole process went something like this.

After asking for our date and time of birth, the boss referred to his book which, I could not resist taking a peek into, pages are filled with columns of Chinese characters. With his free hand, he did some quick calculation by touching the tip of his thumb to the various sections of the rest of his fingers.

Satisfied, he jotted down a few words on the scrap paper and proceeded to tell us what he deciphered and his predictions.

He started off by listing out a few points about what he think my character is. They are pretty general statements. Not once would he brazenly say things like “You like to play Monster Hunter!” to which I would have prostate myself in front of him and beg him to take me as a student. Logically thinking, this first step is probably to establish some credibility to what he was going to tell me.

Disclaimer! Please do not mistake me for calling the boss a fraud or bashing fortune-telling. I appreciate the additional service the boss has kindly and generously extended to me.

It was quite a thought-provoking experience for me and I enjoyed it quite a bit. For everything he said correctly, it is just a reaffirmation for myself. For everything he did not, they just made me self-reflect a bit.

This time, the rain enhanced the experience. Tea house on the top right!

Now the predictions he made for me includes:-

Health – Got to watch out for my liver.

Career – I will do well in the food business.

Marriage – 2018 and 2020 are good years to get hitched.

He described my life as “劳碌命” which translates to “Laborious Life”. This means I always have the need to work and toil, unable to get a moment’s rest. He did not say whether this is by choice or obligatory. 

That concludes the first time having my fortune told to me. Do I believe? Well, it is like asking me if I believe in ghosts. Maybe I do not believe but I cannot be too sure?

Besides, it is always good idea to take care of one’s liver and I am thankful that we were provided with that experience to remember Jiufen by.

Oh! The tea was excellent too!


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I design fine jewellery for a living.

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