In July, 1984, Nick travels by train from eastern China to the city of Xian to visit his former student, Li Xiuli. But he has not realized that Xiao Zhou, her fiance, is suspicious and jealous. Xiuli and Xiao Zhou, show Nick the city over the course of a week. Nicks sees the friction in the relationship between Xiao Zhou and Xiuli, and he discovers that his feelings for her run deeper than he anticipated. But he has already booked his flight backto the US for later in the month. He struggles with his conflicted feelings about Xiuli, his decision to return home, and his experience in China.