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Shanghaied by a dream of riches

Shanghai: divided by a river

I'm sitting on the 86th floor of the world's tallest hotel and its third-highest building, sipping a $5 bottle of Tsingtao beer, and I don't feel welcome. Even though I'm a guest, the waiting staff have glanced with obvious disapproval at my jeans and at the fake designer polo shirt I picked up for next to nothing in Beijing, and frogmarched me towards an uncomfortable high-backed stool in a quiet and poorly lit corner of the bar.

Appropriately enough, I've been shanghaied.

Still, from here I can still look down on the giant city sprawled below. Between here and the Huangpu River are the fringes of Pudong, the financial centre that has sprouted out of paddy Welds in the past decade. It makes Central in Hong Kong look positively third world. On this side of the river, the most immediately visible symbol of progress - if you can call it that - is the 468-metre Oriental Pearl Building, which is the tallest TV tower in Asia.

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