Zhou Yu is a painter at a ceramic factory in the town of Sanming in northwestern China. She has fallen in love with Chen Qing, a shy poet who works in a library in Zhongyang and lives in the clouds. To see him, she travels from Sanming to Zhongyang by train on every weekend, whenever the longing to see him overcomes her. Chen would always wait for her at the train station, with roses, lilies or carnations. Back at Chen's tiny apartment, they make passionate love, and always conclude their amorous encounter with a bowl of sweet tofu soup from an old street peddler. Their future together seems so assured that Zhou Yu never talks or even thinks about it, but applies her energies to raising money and pulling strings to get Chen's poetry published. Until one day, on one of her train journeys, she meets Zhang Jiang, a cynical traveling veterinarian who is not without worldly charms. An accident takes them to Shen Hu, the lake of fairies, a prominent place in one of Chen Qing's poems. That chance meeting will change the destiny of Zhou Yu and the two men.