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I woke up in the late morning with a severe hangover. Micol was dressed, almost ready to leave, and asking us what our plans for the day might be. In two short grunts, Rolando managed to convey the impression that at this point he'd rather keep his options open, didn't have any fixed plans yet, and if we insisted on planning the day together he strongly supported any arrangement that allowed him to stay horizontal, and hopefully unconscious, for the foreseeable future. I, on the other hand, was wide awake, but I wasn't enjoying it very much. We decided to go our separate ways before meeting again sometime in the late afternoon.

I showered, got dressed, and started to make my way up Jin Mao tower. I knew there was a renowned restaurant serving Shanghainese fare near the very top of the building, and this seemed as good a time as any to sample the local cuisine. It took quite a few elevators and long corridors to get there. I wandered eerily, only vaguely aware that the ground was almost a thousand feet below, and felt completely removed from Earth. Occasionally I chanced on a window, and gazed upon a thick mist of clouds, only occasionally breaking up to reveal glimpses of the Pearl Tower or some other improbable convolution of glass and steel. The remainders of last night's binge only added to the eerie experience, and I felt a lot like the revived Frank Poole exploring one of the four World Towers in 3001. Eventually I got to the restaurant, where I ordered three grapefruit juices, a big salad and a few slices of drunken chicken, which seemed especially appropriate. Half an hour later, I felt fit enough to handle surface gravity again and left for a walk in Lujiazui.

Lying just across the river from the Bund, Shanghai's former colonial center, Lujiazui is the westernmost tip of East Shanghai, also known as the Pudong Special Economic Zone. In 1979, Deng Xiaoping created the first five SEZs as an experiment in economic reform. Contrary to the rest of China, these zones allow foreign investment, operate under a special regime regarding taxes and international trade, and are driven primarily by market forces. To call the experiment a success would be an understatement of epic proportions. Shenzhen, the best known of these original SEZs, grew in only thirty years from a small fishing village to a city of 9 Million and the hub of the world's biggest manufacturing area. Credible forecasts name the Hong Kong-Shenzhen metropolitan area as the third largest in the world by GDP ten years from now.

Shenzhen might have undergone the most radical transformation, but the crown jewel of the SEZ experiment is undeniably Shanghai. Since 1990, the entire area east of the Huangpu has been opened to foreign investors, who jumped in with unbridled enthusiasm. Serving as the financial and business center of the People's Republic of China, the area now has two supertall skyscrapers, one of the world's great towers, an ultra-modern airport and reportedly half the high construction cranes in the world. Although it is obvious that the city is still far from done, a walk through it is quite exhilarating. Its skyline bears witness to twenty years of epic building, and you can never stop wondering how any street corner will look even two years from now.

I eventually crossed the Huangpu on the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel, an uncharacteristically low-tech ride that I can't recommend highly enough. This marvel of public transportation not only ferries pedestrians across the river quickly and efficiently, it also dazzles them along the way with a show of strobes, lasers, wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube men and synthesizer music that could give David Gilmour epileptic fits.

In the late afternoon I returned to our hotel and made a big splash in the swimming pool on the 57th floor. Floating in a pool while gazing at a glorious skyline feels weird at first, but it's definitely a feeling I could get used to. Toweling yourself off while contemplating the city lights superimposed on your naked reflection is worth a night at the Hyatt in and of itself.

At the end of the day we once again met Ben for Hunanese food (really spicy, really good) and a few after-dinner drinks at Lounge 18, a hip expats' club overlooking the Huangpu, before taking refuge in the Shelter, a dive bar installed in a former underground bunker now filled with reggae music and cheap drinks.

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