Tonight I found the piece of China I knew from childhood stories – a place where power hides itself behind waves of silk rather than within ripples of cement, where dragons breathe fire into people’s hearts, not in factory furnaces.

I traveled all day across industrial netherworlds; I pedaled mindlessly until nightfall, then I found myself between two streams sprinkled with mist, in a townlet where each street is illuminated in its own colour.

It seems deserted, but the place abounds with phantasms slinking through in traditional houses, with whispers behind curtains, whiffs of roasted peanuts, rice brandy and incense sticks.

A phantasmic girl helps me understand that this is a millennium-old village, where people eat a lot of fish and live to be a hundred years.

I pedal onwards and I’m no longer looking at the skyscrapers that spring up from rice fields, at the monstrous viaducts treading on crab farms, at the dozens of trucks that carry away entire trees, with roots and all, during the night.

Don’t look at anything anymore. Tonight we’re enveloped in silk.

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