Saturday, 15 November 2008

Go to Pudong, the eastern financial district. Take a taxi to the Regency Hyatt. Let the footman hold the door open as you pay. Button up your suit. Walk past the first reception, smiling suited men and women with golden name badges and polished shoes. Hear the clip of leather soles on marble. Climb fifty four floors in the first lift, eyeing unshaven important western men, suit jackets over one arm. Don't catch sight of yourself in the mirror just yet. Switch lifts, walking past the dark gold ambiance of a second hotel lobby set against the dark night sky, the neon already far below you. Climb another thirty one floors with more businessmen, you can see them already looking forward to gentle sleep in a soft bed. Switch again, it's darker now up here but bright in the gold mirrored lift. Now examine yourself - there are three mirrors for the purpose. Tailored striped shirt, tailored grey jacket. Emerge out into the eighty seventh floor, soft neon the only thing holding back black and grey as you pass leather upholstered armchairs and black tabletops. This bar isn't for you tonight, the one where invisible Risk men are shifted over Friday night cocktails by the masters of the universe. You're going to the bar just beside it, you could watch and hear them from your table - these two bars are in the same room after all - but you won't. Your bar is personal, hidden away, just as dark on the inside - to be sure - but outside bright, infinite. In front of you a wall of glass and beyond lies the tops of sky scrapers so far below, the river, unerring neon and flashing lights to warn off planes, streets lit up by the red, yellow, white of headlamps and taillamps, the whole of Shanghai stretching out before you. Smoke a cigar, let the mist fizz up into your vision so it gives everything that dreamlike foggy air, and drink a cocktail, drink three, till the lightness near your neck and the top of your head makes you forget the glass, the bar, the money talk, until you aren't there at all but in heaven floating out over the night, the boats, the neon, the street vendors and the taxi drivers, since from up here everything is nothing but beauty.

They call this place Cloud Nine for a reason.

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