Even though we have only been home for less than 10 days, our experiences in China and Mexico seem like a dream that took place a long long time ago in a land far far away, just like this Chinese fairytale based in Hongzhou, one of the towns we visited.
A long long time ago, in the West Lake of Hongzhou in the Southern Song Dynasty, lived a white female snake named Bai Suzhen who dreamt of being transformed into an immortal goddess by performing good deeds for others within the human realm.
Bai transformed herself into a woman and began her journey to immortality. Along the way she met Qing, a green female snake who caused destruction everywhere she went. To avoid the harm Qing could cause, Bai held her captive at the bottom of the West Lake and promised to come back and free her in 300 years. True to her word, Bai returned and realized that she had developed a deep sisterly bond with Qing and invited her to continue on with her in the journey to become a goddess.
Soon the two women encountered an evil sorcerer named Fahai, who believed that every demon (including the snake women) was inherently evil and had to be eliminated. However, Bai was too powerful of a demon and Fahai was unable to harm her, so he left, vowing to destroy the snakes if he ever encountered them again.
Afraid of encountering more evil sorcerers, the women retreated to Banbuduo, a magical realm existing between the human and demon worlds. However, they accidentally brought a man, Xu Xian, down into Banbuduo, and Bai found herself in love with him. The couple confessed their love for one another, but realized that if Xu would ever return to the human world, he would have to be knocked out only to lose all his memories of the demon realm. Xu was very careful to avoid losing the memories of his love, but Fahai found a way to sneak into Banbuduo, knocking Xu out and taking him back to the human realm.
When Xu returned to the human world, he had forgotten everything about Bai and his time in the other realm. Soon after, Bai returned to the human world as well, in hopes of capturing human tears, the final step to become a goddess. This quest is cut short once Bai sees Xu with another woman.
However, Qing is convinced that if the two just meet again, Xu will remember his lost love. A meeting is arranged and the couple quickly reconciles. They are soon married, open a medicine shop, and begin to live happily ever after…
However, humans and demons are forbidden to bond, so the town of Hongzhou is struck by a plague. Bai, Qing, and Fahai finally come to an agreement and find a magical herb that can help to cure the population. ButFahai is still determined to eliminate the demons, and continues to try, even though Bai is now pregnant with Xu’s child.
On the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, when the Duanwu festival is held, demons are reverted into their original shape. To avoid this exposure, Bai decides to bring Qing and Xu back to Banbuduo, but Fahai plays another trick on the group and exposes Bai in her true snake form, literally scaring Xu to death. Bai finds a drug to bring her husband back to life and is forced to tell him the truth about her origin after giving birth to his son. Xu accepts his beloved wife for who she is and the two are more in love than ever.
Fahai sees his opportunity and attacks Bai. Weakened from childbirth, Bai is captured and held for eterntiy in the Leifing Pagoda on the hill of the West Lake.