Hallstat, China. The early morning smog conceals the newly built homes. A team of developers gets to the quaint little village early in order to prepare for the big day.
Even though their faces are covered by masks, their eyes are smiling, This, of course, is a momentous occasion, one that they’ve been dreaming about for a very long time, ever since they went to Austria the first time. There, they fell in love with a little Austrian lake-side town in the Alps. And love, in the end, is the core of this story, its beginning and end. They returned to Austria several times after that, armed with cameras and little notebooks in which they feverishly sketched. They loved them there, in Austria. Maybe it was the language barrier, but none of the Austrians ever suspected they were anything more than a group of alpine-loving Chinese men. But our three developers had an entirely different agenda, different from holiday snaps. They took the photos back to China, looked for investors and started building.
It was very hard at first, they had started to build back when the Chinese real-estate market was booming. Everyone though nothing could go wrong but, as building progresses, as hard as they tried to sell their project no clients bought the pastel homes they were so lovingly building. So our three developers had a very good idea, a stroke of brilliance. Their little town was ready, shiny, unoccupied so when they brought young miss Bao to live there for free, she was thrilled. A struggling actor, Bao jumped at the opportunity to get involved in the illusion that the three developers had created. She was to live in Little Austria rent free live out the play that would make our three developers a fortune. For now, she just had to wait.
The tree went back to Austria, where they were greeted entirely differently by the confused Austrians who did not understand their homage. They though they had been robbed, somewhat violated. It was odd to think of their homes, copied somewhere in the far East, lived-in by strangers. There was a town meeting and the three Chinese developers addressed the reluctance of their hosts by announcing the first Hallstat Intercontinental Exchange Program.
This program would put in contact the people living in the same house on separate continents. The first Austrian who would get to meet his Chinese counterpart was young Herr Schlit, handsome yet naive. He traveled back to China with our three developers, all expenses paid and was greeted by a bashful Bao.
Herr Schlit stayed in his very own home in China, an experience that he could only describe as “surreal”. So much was the same and yet so different. Bao was the perfect host, accommodating, pleasant and just the right amount of exotic. What had started as a hoax, flourished into a real love story, or at least this is how the three developers sell it. Schlit settled in perfectly in China. In a way, he had never really left home, had he?
Schlit and Bao will marry in a traditional ceremony later today. This is why our three developers are this happy this earl, smoggy morning. They’ve come to prepare thei town for the festivities, hanging banners and ordering food. They were expecting hundreds of Westerners from Hallstadt that day, all of which would be housed in their very own homes. They wanted their town to look its best, even better than the original. It was much newer, wasn’t it?
The ceremony was beautiful, the right mix of Austrian and Chinese tradition. Even the smog had cleared, to allow for good wedding photos.
The three developers were happy. They showed their very own Hallstat in its best light (as unencumbered by smog as possible) and even convinced some Austrians to buy a second home in China. Truly, a home far away from home!