There was never a moment of quiet in this busy city of Shanghai, so was it an extremely fast-paced city. Qin Sheng was still trying to adapt to its pace. To excel in this city, a person would need to put in 200% of effort even if he was naturally talented. This was because there were just too many outstanding talents gathered here. They were mostly very brilliant people from good family backgrounds who were also exceptionally hardworking. How would you stand against them if you did not put in your best and more?
This day, Qin Sheng did not drive the car when he left the house. He was preparing to leave Thomson Gold Resort. He would all the more not stay in Shimao Riviera Garden. It would be awkward for him to do so with his current status. Perhaps if he were to ask, Han Bing would bestow him with the luxurious apartment worth over 10 million dollars, without any hesitation. However, Qin Sheng would definitely not accept such a gift. He believed that a real man should use his own hands to attain what he wanted. Apart from the sense of achievement which came with his own hardwork, more importantly he could take in all the sweetness, sourness, bitterness, spicyness and the different emotions in the process.
Qin Sheng had already contacted the manager of Shangshan Ruoshui, who was a 40 over years old middle-aged man. Jiang Xianbang had vaguely described this man to him. He was once a vice president of one of the government sectors, which meant he was going to have a bright future for sure. However for some unknown reasons, he left the government sector to set up his own business. Unfortunately, luck was not on his side and soon, he lost all his wealth to his business. Subsequently, he met Jiang Xianbang, who thought he was an exceptional talent not to be missed. Jiang Xianbang took the initiative to help him by putting him in charge of Shangshan Ruoshui, a branch of business Jiang Xianbang had painstakingly started. Over the years, the business flourished and so became Jiang Xianbang’s valued resource.
Shangshan Ruoshui was situated on Sinan Road, on a famous person’s old address. It was housed in a bangalow with a garden stretching four acres. It was far more extensive than Jiang Xianbang’s own villa. Having rented this place for 20 years, Jiang Xianbang had designed this private club to look like a museum, decorating it with many exquisite art pieces.
Although there were numerous clubs in Shanghai, first class clubs such as Yongfuhui and Shangshan Ruoshuo were few. Shangshan Ruoshui was a private, low key club, whose threshold for membership was exceptionally high. Only the crazy rich and prestigeous people could become its members. People such as celebrities and upstarts were being outright rejected. Jiang Xianbang was the overall person in charge, but he had assigned a committee made up of six top-notch members, to vote for the decision on which members to stay. This was done annually so each member who had been a member for at least a year had the right to nominate. Apart from old timers, the rest of the members were treated unilaterally. No one was more superior than the other.
Qin Sheng had time in his hand, therefore he took a public bus to travel there. He had good time management skills which allowed him to arrive exactly on time. From trivial things like this, one could tell how some people would become successful. These were people who were able to make great things happen out of things others neglected.
The subway in Shanghai was absolutely bustling. It had the best coverage compared to the rest of the cities in China. However, Qin Sheng still preferred to take the public bus and especially the buses at dawn. Travelling on the bus early in the allowed him to enjoy the beautiful scenes of the city in quietness.
As expected, Qin Sheng was stopped by the security guards when he arrived at the gates of Shangshan Ruoshui. The guards asked who he was looking for and Qin Sheng smiled when he said he was looking for Shangshan Ruoshui’s general manager, Qu Lancheng. On hearing this, one security guard smiled and said, “You must be Mr Qin. Manager Xu had instructed us to bring you inside. Manager Yuan is waiting for you.”
As Qin Sheng was led onto a shaded path, he realized that Shangshan Ruoshui was enclosed by green and grey brick walls and therefore there was no way anyone from outside could look in and see what was happening inside. Its gates would only be opened to let in guests. Other times, they were always tightly shut.
After entering the gates, there was a walkway paved with green stones slabs, which led them straight to a 4-storey building in the center of the garden. This walkway was merely 10 meters long, but it was lined by six pairs of stone statues on both sides. These stone statues were said to have come from the mausoleum of different emperors. This was so Jiang Xianbang.
There was a water feature with rockery at the end of the small path. Inscribed on the largest stone sitting in the middle of of the path were four chinese characters “Shang Shan Liu Shui”. These characters were in cursive writings which were difficult to decifer. Luckily, Qin Sheng had some knowledge of chinese calligraphy. Even so, he did not know which famous calligrapher wrote these inscriptions.
Qin Sheng was not in a hurry to enter the building. He took his time to look around the place and realized that the entire place was surrounded by greenry. Some of the tree were even towering trees that dotted the sparse carpark.
After going aroud for two rounds, Qin Sheng did not even bump into a single soul. Perhaps it was because it was still 8am in the morning and the employees had not arrived for work yet.
A moment later, Qin Sheng finally slowly strolled into the small building. The style of interior design was not far from Jiang Xianbang’s villa, which was to be expected. The only difference was that over here, everything was more exquisite and delicate. Apparently, every single ornament seemed to have gone through the careful consideration of a fengshui master. Many of the decorative ornaments were displayed in glass cases.
“You must be Brother Qin,” a man in suit ran up to Qin Sheng and greeted him politely as Qin Sheng was studying a ceramic piece with green patterns on it.
Qin Sheng smiled and answered, “Indeed I’m Qin Sheng.”
“Hi, Brother Qin. I am Yuan Hua, the deputy manager for security. Manager Xu had already instructed me to bring you around to see Shangshan Ruoshui. He had something to attend to this morning and will only be here around 10am,” said Yuan Hua, who was a retired special unit soldier.
Qin Sheng frowned slight and asked, “Around 10am?”
Feeling apologetic, Yuan Hua said, “He’s going to the airport to pick up an important guest because there will be a salon in the afternoon in the club. This guest is coming all the way from Hong Kong to attend the salon.”
Qin Sheng finally understood the situation after Yuan Hua explained to him. He smiled and said, “I see, no problem.”
“This way please,” Yuan Hua bowed slightly as he showed Qin Sheng the way.
Finally Qin Sheng could size up Yuan Hua at this moment. He had a thick, strong palm covered with scabs at the back. He had an angular face and fierce eyes. Qin Sheng made an educated guess that he must know some martial arts, so it was no wonder he was in charge of security. After all, Shangshan Ruoshui was not a place for common people. Not only was it an exclusive club and that it treated its guests with the highest respect, the antique pieces and collectibles here were truly alluring.
Yuan Hua brought Qin Sheng around the entire Shangshan Ruoshui and this was when Qin Sheng realized that there two levels of basement in this building. Basement one was where the office and the kitchen were, while basement two was garage and security area. Qin Sheng could almost guess what was kept inside the security area.
The ground level was where the reception area and exhibition area were while the three levels up from there were rooms of various shapes and sizes. The top level was exclusively for the six top notch members.
After Qin Sheng took a total of an hour to go around Shangshan Ruoshui, Yuan Hua made arrangement for him to take a rest in one of the rooms and prepared some refreshments for him. Yuan Hua also said that he was free to roam around and he would inform Qin Sheng once Manager Xu arrived.
The interior of this particular room in chinese style. All the furniture were made of rosewood and there was even an expensive looking guzheng by the window. There seemed to be a story behind every piece of antique in the room.
Qin Sheng sat down and looked out of the window silently, being deep in thoughts.
What was on Qin Sheng’s mind?
He was thinking about Jiang Xianbang.
Honestly, Qin Sheng was totally clueless with regards Jiang Xianbang’s family background. After all, they did not interact with each other often. Qin Sheng only knew that Jiang Xianbang was a resourceful person. When he returned to Shanghai this time he was implicated into the Han family crisis. He initially just wanted to get some information from Jiang Xianbang, but Jiang Xianbang volunteered to help appease Third Master Wu. That was when Qin Sheng realized that Jiang Xianbang was not a simple character. He seemed to have a rather friendly relationship with Third Master Wu, a formidable character feared even by Han Guoping.
In two consecutive days, Qin Sheng had been to Jiang Xianbang’s villa the day before and here he was today at Shangshan Ruoshui. Initially Qin Sheng thought the idea that Shangshang Ruoshui was just an ordinary private club, however, his impression of Jiang Xianbang had completely changed after he walked through this place.
Perhaps it was because Qin Sheng felt that his relationship with Jiang Xianbang was not one between an elder and his junior. Rather, they were like brothers. Qin Sheng had thought that all along, Jiang Xianbang did not have a proper profession and he was always joking around. Qin Sheng thought that there had to be something amazing about him which made him what he was today, but at this moment, he thought Jiang Xianbang was even more remarkable than he imagined.
Qin Sheng did not take note of how much time had passed as he sat in the room. When he finally looked at the time, it was already 9.30am, yet Manager Xu had no come by.
Qin Sheng walked out of the room and wondered around the place, appreciating the calligraphy works of famous calligraphers as well as antiques and collectables. Along the way, he met a number of Shangshan Ruoshui’s employees. Qin Sheng was surprised to see that most of them are beautiful ladies. All of them smiled and nodded politely when they saw Qin Sheng, and their smiles were sweeter than that of air stewardesses!
Qin Sheng was secretly cursing Jiang Xianbang for tipping the balance of social resources given that he had employed so many pretty ladies.
After a while, Qin Sheng was tired of looking at the pretty ladies so he got out of the building to breathe some fresh air. Coincidentally, he spotted another beautiful lady in grey cheong sum trying to park her car. However, she was caught in a tight spot, not being able to park her car into the lot, neither could she get out and find another lot.
Although she was driving a Lexus, which was a really good car, her skills were not as impressive.
Qin Sheng did not rush over to help her immediately, but remained an onlooker. After all, he did not work at Shangshan Ruoshui. Unfortunately, Qin Sheng was about the only person there.
At her wits end after a while, she rolled down her window and called out to Qin Sheng saying, “Hey you! Why do you just stand around and watch me? Come over and help!”
“Me?” Qin Sheng pointed at himself, puzzled.
Frustrated, the lady in cheong sum said, “Is there anyone else here other than you?”
Qin Sheng shrugged, quickly waddled over. Would it not be his pleasure to help a pretty lady out of a sticky situation?
Once Qin Sheng was there, she exited her car and said to Qin Sheng, “You park the car.”
To Qin Sheng, helping her to park the car was not a big deal.
Once Qin Sheng got onto the driver’s seat, he calmly turned the steering wheel a few times and slowly parked the car into the lot.
Not only did the pretty lady not appreciative, she was displeased with Qin Sheng for standing there like an onlooker for so long.
She glared at Qin Sheng and questioned, “Are you an employee of Shangshan Ruoshui?”
“Yes and no,” Qin Sheng gave her an ambiguous answer.
Dissatisfied with his answer, the pretty lady in grey cheong sum frowned and asked, “Yes or no?”
“Yes,” Qin Sheng answered after pondering for a while. He could only answer in this way since he was going to join Shangshan Ruoshui anyways.
The pretty lady in cheong sum tossed him her car key and said, “Go to the High School Affiliated to Fudan University on my behalf to pick up a student. He will recognize this car plate number.”
Before Qin Sheng understood what was going on, the pretty lady in cheong sum grabbed her bag and left.
Qin Sheng was left there in a confused state…