Returning to her native village in the mountains from the prosperous city of Guangzhou for a visit, Ciao Ciao can’t stop talking about her love for the city and her deep contempt for the unambitious countrymen of her hometown.
Her mother is a hard worker who does the harvesting, manages a grocery store and does all the chores, while her father, a slacker who’s supposedly unfit for work, spends his time concocting aphrodisiacs using snake venom.
Ciao Ciao connects with a caring hairdresser who wants to open a beauty salon in Guangzhou, and reconnects with Li Wei, a childhood friend. Against all odds, the brutish Li Wei, who’s an inveterate gambler and often hires prostitutes, manages to seduce her.
They get married, but only then does Ciao Ciao discover that her new father-in-law, a widowed trader who supplies the region with contraband alcohol, has been having an affair with her mother for years.