A ping pong ball, found floating in a stream, becomes the source of wonderment for three young boys who live in the remote grasslands of Mongolia, a magnificent landscape little changed since the time of Genghis Khan. Bilike, the ball's discoverer, assumes it's a bird's egg. His wizened grandmother proclaims it a magic pearl. Unconvinced, the boys take the ball to the monastery, but even the grasslands' most knowledgeable inhabitants are stumped. When a television show (seen on the region's only set) reveals that the object is the "national ball of China," the determined young scouts decide to embark upon a journey to return the precious talisman to the Chinese capital.