"To The Wonder drama is a gem you should not miss for many reasons."

To The Wonder Drama Review

  • Drama Title: To The Wonder
  • Also Known As:我的阿勒泰, My Aletai, My Altay, Wo De A Lei Tai
  • Screenwriter & Director: Teng Cong Cong
  • Cast: Ma Yi Li, Zhou Yi Ran, Yu Shi
  • Genres: Romance, Life, Family
  • Episodes: 8
  • Date of Release: April 7, 2024 (Festival), May 7, 2024 (online)
  • Original Network: CCTV, iQiyi
  • Where to Watch: iQiyi
  • Adapted from the essay collection “Wo De A Lei Tai” by Li Juan

Hello, dear readers! I’m so excited to tell you all about this amazing drama, To The Wonder. I wasn’t planning to write a review about it, but after watching it, I just had to share my thoughts. This drama is so unique and special, and I feel like it would be a waste if I didn’t share it with you all.

It’s not the kind of popular drama that everyone knows about, but it’s definitely worth your time! I promise you, this drama will take you on an enchanting journey into the world of Altay. So, without further ado, let’s dive into the drama review of To The Wonder!

To The Wonder Synopsis

To The Wonder is a Chinese romance drama, consist of 8 episodes and released in May 2024. Li Wen Xiu, a sweet and ordinary girl, has just lost her job. Her dream was to go to Beijing and pursue her dream of being a writer. But since financial problems had become a problem, she had no choice but to return to her mother’s house.

Li Wen Xiu went a long way to find a new house, which was far away in the small town of Altay. Her mother, the easy-going Zhang Feng Xia, runs a small grocery store in the middle of a herding community.

Kazakhs have a different way of life and a different language. Soon, language became a challenge for Li Wen Xiu to communicate with others. And among a small number of people who speak Mandarin fluently, there was a Kazakh boy named Batay. His free-spirited attitude attracted Li Wen Xiu and she began to fall in love with him.

During her stay with the Kazakh people, Li Wen Xiu got used to the challenging life in the pastoral area, she gradually discovered the beauty of the simple world she lived in. She met many people and many characters. She fell in love and out of love. And she hurts and is being hurt. Every experience of daily life became an important inspiration for her writing.

To The Wonder Drama Review

Mind blowing! To The Worder is a must-see drama, dear readers!

First of all, I already mentioned To The Wonder in the New Dramas Released in April article. However, it turned out that on April 7, To The Wonder premiered at the Cannes International Series Festival or Canneseries. You could start watching this drama on iQiyi on May 7.

To The Wonder drama review - poster

I came across this drama again while doing a screening of several dramas. Some were dropped in the early episode, and I ended up with To The Wonder and Men in Love. If you were tired of today’s romance dramas, To The Wonder offered you a different kind of story. This drama fascinates me in every way. The theme is simple and the story is ordinary.

Nevertheless, this drama captivated me. To The Wonder may not be categorized as a highly popular drama, but this drama is on a different level. This drama must be made for the sole purpose of the festival. I could just randomly take a screenshot of the scenes, and it was instantly worthy of becoming a wallpaper on my iPad.

After I finished To The Wonder, I felt that I needed this drama in 40 episodes. Eight episodes are really not enough. I enjoy this drama slowly as if it were my favorite food. So I ended up watching 8 episodes in 3 days. I choose my binge-watching time carefully so that no one disturbs me, including my daughter, my cats, or my husband. And it was worth every single second I spent. 😘

China was widely known for its multi-ethnicity. The majority of Chinese people belonged to the Han ethnic group. However, there were many ethnic minority groups such as Tibetans, Mongolians, and Uighurs. In this drama, I saw Han, Kazakh, and Mongolian people. I heard their languages but mainly I could tell them apart by the way they dressed.

Altay or Aletai is a small town in the Xinjiang province of China. Wikitravel says that you can drive about 100 km in any direction except south and you will hit a border. Altay is surrounded by Mongolia to the east, Russia to the north, and Kazakhstan to the west.

In the first episode, Li Wen Xiu works in the city of Urumqi. When she is fired, she has to take a 12-hour bus ride to Altay. This city was known as a place where many ethnicities lived, such as Kazakhs, Mongolians, and Uighurs. And so, for a multicultural love story in this drama, Altay is a perfect setting for it.

Living with people who have different customs and traditions is challenging. For Li Wen Xiu, the biggest challenge she faced when she arrived in Altay was the language. Li Wen Xiu didn’t understand Kazakh. She only spoke Mandarin, but few Kazakh people spoke Mandarin. She overcame the language barrier, even though it caused some laughter. For example, she became a storekeeper and a lady came to ask about “boom boom.” I don’t know what it was, but it made me laugh.

The Kazakh people in Altay were Muslims. The women wore scarves on their heads, and the men wore special hats. I loved seeing the Kazakh wedding customs. The bride’s hat and dress were beautiful. And it seemed so merry to dance around in a grassland. This scene reminded me of a scene when Zhang Zi Yi and Zhou Yi Wei danced around in The Rebel Princess drama.

Story-wise, To The Wonder is a story about Li Wen Xiu and her dream of becoming a writer. But Batay, Zhang Feng Xia, and Sulitan also play an important role in her life. Li Wen Xiu needed to experience a lot of different things to understand life better. The people of Altay helped her with this.

From her mother, Li Wen Xiu learned how to move on with grievances and enjoy every moment of life. Zhang Feng Xia has a whimsical wisdom. She doesn’t like characters obsessed with wealth and amusement. Zhang Feng Xia finds happiness in simple things. Laughter, warmth, and love are the things she values.

Batay taught Li Wen Xiu that love is beautiful. Heartbreak makes us grow. Pain shapes us. How we face the pain and process through it shapes us into a different person. However, it could be worse or better.

Li Wen Xiu needed to change. So she could be like she is now.

The Cinematography

Good drama has more to it than just the story. A good story needs a good storyteller. I think a director’s main job is to tell a story. They decide how to tell the story and direct the actors to play their parts well.

The cinematography plays an important role. Through the camera, the directors lead us to see things we have to see and perceive the emotions that the story wants to express. To the Wonder nailed it all.

To The Wonder drama review - poster 2

The director used many wide-angle cameras to capture the beauty of Altay. This drama is full of picturesque scenery. The stunning landscapes of the grassland, mountain, river, and sky were shown to us, the viewers. This is the best part of the drama that I like to watch slowly. Teng Cong Cong also took a very detailed shot to emphasize details. For instance, when Li Wen Xiu found an ear mushroom on a log in the forest.

I must say, I was weak with these endless spectacles of beautiful nature. 🥰

I love how the focus shifted flawlessly in episode 3. Batay was waiting for Li Wen Xiu and her family to come back from the city. He sat on a broken chair and played with the chicken. The camera first focused on Batay, then on the ox cart far away. My eyes kept moving from Batay to the ox cart because the director made it blurry. First, she blurred the ox cart, then Batay. I could not take my eyes off the screen during this scene.

The director’s great cinematography made To the Wonder an enthralling tale of a multicultural people. Kudos to the director, actors, and production team. 👍

The Cast and Crews

I’m new to Ma Yi Li, Zhou Yi Ran, and Yu Shi’s drama. After this, I want to see more of their work. So far, I’ve only watched Zhou Yi Ran’s Regeneration. It was a good suspense drama and Zhou Yi Ran also did well in this one.

I liked the way the main characters interacted. Especially Ma Yi Li and Zhou Yi Ran’s mother-and-daughter interactions. They have great chemistry. Better than Li Wen Xiu and Batay.

Teng Cong Cong directed and wrote To The Wonder. I didn’t have much information about her. She was an editor for commercial films and wrote two screenplays. This was my first time seeing her drama. I hope she makes another high-quality drama better than this one.

The Story

This beautiful drama gave me a powerful message. At the end of the last episode, I had this sentence ringing in my ear: the world is ever-changing, and men need to adapt.

To The Wonder is a flashback drama. Back in 2001, Li Wen Xiu was just a young girl. She didn’t have much experience and lost her job at a restaurant in Urumqi. She used to live in the city but had never been to a ranch. She wanted to go to Beijing and become a writer. Her time in the city wasn’t good. She was bullied and cheated by her fellow waiters.

To The Wonder drama review - poster 3

Li Wen Xiu had to go back to her mother’s house. Her mother was moving to a place far away where she lived in a herder community.

I laughed a lot at the scene when Li Wen Xiu looked for her mother’s house. A horse skull falls from the tree to her hand. It startled Li Wen Xiu, who apparently thought it was a human skull. She ran around with the horse skull, screaming at the top of her lungs. And accidentally passed by “the fake TV” that Zhang Feng Xia built for her mother-in-law.

I couldn’t help but think she looked like Charlie Brown in this scene.

Zhang Feng Xia is Li Wen Xiu’s mother. Unlike her timid daughter, Zhang Feng Xia is an easygoing person. She enjoyed her life, even though it was hard.

The mother and daughter were close. Li Wen Xiu was shy and introverted, but around her mother, she was more relaxed and lively. With the addition of Grandma, Zhang Feng Xia’s mother-in-law, the atmosphere inside the shabby house is full of comedy. Just like what Grandma said to Li Wen Xiu in episode 3.

“Why are you looking at him? Is he edible? Why don’t you cook something? I’m starving.”

The edible part got me rolling… 🤣🤣

Zhang Feng Xia’s store is a small kiosk inside her house. It’s the only store in a 50-km area. She said she could sell anything. She wanted to open a store on the summer ranch. She didn’t tell Li Wen Xiu why, but she was determined to take the old path, Fairy Cove Path.

After living in the city, Li Wen Xiu finally got to live in the grassland. She made friends and got a crush on Batay. She was happy and started to dream about the future. I was relieved because she kept her dream.

The drama started when Li Wen Xiu, Zhang Feng Xia, and Grandma moved to the summer ranch in Naren. It was an arduous journey through the Gobi Desert. Zheng Feng Xia wanted to follow Sulitan because he was the only person in the community who still took this old path. They dressed casually because it was their first time moving houses using camels and horses. The locals questioned their choice of clothing. This was another example of culture shock for Li Wen Xiu and her family.

The summer ranch was where the herders took their livestock during the season. Nomadic people like them were used to moving their dwellings according to the season. The Kazakh people in Altay moved to the ranch during the summer and winter but stayed at their permanent houses during spring and autumn. On the ranch, they lived in yurt tents, a round portable tent.

The herder community lived a simple, traditional life. Yet, the world is changing. Even though they did not get in touch with modern life too often, they still felt the impact of modern living. For instance, the government rules.

Sulitan is the last herder who sticks to tradition. He still took the old Fairy Cove Trail, while the rest used the highway. Sulitan was stubborn about this because he cared about the traditions. He loved hunting and herding. Yet the government did not allow him to keep the eagles or rifles. They could no longer hunt wolves without a license. These rules are suffocating him. Adding to the pain, his only son refuses to follow his way of life. Sulitan feels his life is being taken away.

He looks like an old man who resists change. But if you look deeper, you’ll sympathize with him.

The Fairy Cove trail and the summer ranch are the most beautiful part of To The Wonder. You see beautiful scenery and a beautiful romance between Batay and Li Wen Xiu. I love the pure relationship between them. There weren’t many schemes like in urban drama and the love wasn’t excessive like in historical drama. It was more like a first love that happened in school kids.

You can tell it when Batay throws a cushion at Li Wen Xiu who was butt was aching during the horse ride. Batay cares for Li Wen Xiu but also loves to tease her. Well… Li Wen Xiu and Batay only started their adulthood era and it seemed that they had never fallen in love before. 😁😁

There weren’t many obstacles in Li Wen Xiu and Batay’s relationship. Although some jealousy plays an important part in affirming their feeling for each other. I was blushing when Batay told Li Wen Xiu to lessen her smile and put on a fierce expression, or else, she would end up with many boyfriends.😚

To The Wonder’s story pace is quite slow. It mainly focused on Li Wen Xiu’s family and Batay in most of the episodes. Near the end, the tension increased with the return of a supporting character. The ending of this drama was open. I often see open endings in artsy movies or dramas.

I like the freedom they give us to fantasize, but sometimes I want a clear ending. I wanted to know whether the main characters were together or separated. However, be prepared for a sad scene. I cried a lot in the last episode. I wrote this drama ending on seperate post, you can read it in To The Wonder ending explained.

I guess being a Cdrama fan for years made me a bit whiny…😅

The Characters

Li Wen Xiu

Li Wen Xiu dreamed of being an aspirational writer. She’s kind but she’s introverted. But when she’s with her family, she’s lively. Li Wen Xiu is stubborn, even though she looks sweet and simple. If she decides to do something, she’ll do it. Li Wen Xiu speaks her mind freely, which worries Zhang Feng Xia. Especially when Li Wen Xiu was among the Kazakh people whose have different customs.

To The Wonder drama review - Li Wen Xiu
To The Wonder drama review – Li Wen Xiu

Li Wen Xiu is creative. Her ideas often surprise those around her. I like her solution for the leaking tent. She used many plastic bags to hold the water. It was kinda risky but quite effective.

As a young woman, Li Wen Xiu still has the naivety and the innocence of a child. She’s also passionate and energetic. She’s shy and clumsy. But these traits add charm to her personality.

Li Wen Xiu failed at writing because she didn’t know how to express emotions. As Liu Haibo said, she should try to experience love and heartbreak. However, as Zhang Feng Xia’s daughter, Li Wen Xiu demonstrates a tough mentality when hard time comes.

Zhang Feng Xia

Zhang Feng Xia is creative. For example, when Grandma is missing at the market and gets into a fight with Li Wen Xiu because she can’t recognize her granddaughter, Zhang Feng Xia takes a red flag from a nearby story (and remembers to pay) and pretends to be a bus conductor calling for passengers to Shenyang. Grandma, who wants to go to Shenyang, immediately follows her.

To The Wonder drama review - Zhang Feng Xia
To The Wonder drama review – Zhang Feng Xia

Zhang Feng Xia never argues with her daughter. Their relationship is the most relaxed mother-daughter relationship I’ve ever seen in Cdramaland. She let her daughter try new things but still protected her. She guided Li Wen Xiu so she wouldn’t go the wrong way.

Zhang Feng Xia seemed laid back, but she stuck to her principles. She tells her daughter to keep her modern ideas to herself when she’s with the Kazakh people because they have their own customs and way of life.

She tells her daughter to keep her modern ideas to herself when she’s with the Kazakh people because they have their own customs and ways of living.

But it’s said that the saddest people laugh the most. Zhang Feng Xia kept all her sadness and yearning hidden from everyone, including Li Wen Xiu. I really felt sad for her.

Batay

Batay is the second son of Sulitan. He is Kazakh but fluent in Mandarin. Batay works as a horse trainer. The stable owner says he is the best horse trainer. He is kind, open-minded, and knows what he wants.

To The Wonder drama review - Batay
To The Wonder drama review – Batay

However, it is not easy for Batay. A year ago, Murat, Batay’s older brother and Sulitan’s first son died. Now, Sulitan puts all his hope on Batay. Although Batay is someone with modern thought, he could not overlook filial piety.

Batay is a sly person. I guess he was already attracted to Li Wen Xiu since the first time they met. He might find her amusing, but it did not show in his eyes. But he tries to get some time alone with Li Wen Xiu when he pretends to forget that he ordered a plier to hang his horse’s skull on the tree. Li Wen Xiu had to chase him with the plier. And in the end, Batay and Li Wen Xiu spent some time together while sitting at a tree.

The Conclusion

Just like I said at the beginning of this drama review, To The Wonder is a gem you should not miss for many reasons. It was rare to have a high-quality drama listed in an international festival. The cinematography is impeccable. The story might be simple, but the multicultural background adds a wonderful charm to it.

The actors did a perfect job, and I’m sure you’ll love seeing the funny side of Li Wen Xia and how attractive Batay is. And lastly, even though I regret it, this drama gives you a big advantage by only having 8 episodes. You can savor To The Wonder slowly, and it won’t cost you too much of your time.

If you’re attracted to this kind of drama, you’re in for a treat! Get ready for a non-stop feast of stunning scenery! It’s like stepping into a whole new world of wonder that’s hard to resist. 😍

Anyhow, thank you for stopping by, dear readers. I’ll see you in another post of drama reviews. Happy watching!

Iya Moyya
Iya Moyya
"A Chinese drama and movie lover for the past 5 years. I contemplate everything, everyday" - Do you like my writing? You can support me by clicking this donation link: Buy Me A Coffee ☕️, thank you!

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"To The Wonder drama is a gem you should not miss for many reasons."To The Wonder Drama Review
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