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Its always fun to visit Shanghai, an ever changing city, with new places to go and new things to do every time I go, every year, and this is the second time I’m here this year.
Shanghainese do not usually eat rice with their meal and some of the dishes are quite strange for a Westerner's palate- such as cold tripe, duck tongue, pig spine, and other delicacies I was offered- I can fully appreciate their intent- but my stomach wasn't so keen.
Table manners are somewhat of a Western bourgeoisie affectation for most Chinese- including the wealthier classes- so do not be shocked, or revolted by frequently snorting, dephlegming of throats, open mouth chewing, spitting out of bones or reaching over one another's used chopsticks to get at communal dishes.
Careful giving out money to beggars- most are pan-handles. Once you give it to one- it's like a feeding frenzy and you'll be hounded. Don't feel bad about refusing to give- just make small 'no' waves (a palm-outward, fingers upward- revolve wrist in small Left-Right shakes)- this seems very common in Asia as a sign of no thanks.
Security guards don't really care what goes on outside their building- their job is to keep the beggars and such out- so they won't help you being swarmed by many outstretched palms. I was told begging is illegal- but people do it. Heaven knows whether they're truly poor or not- but most likely their scam-artists.
Poverty is quite visible ten minutes from the city centre- you'll see very grubby bikes, trishaws and scooters. People washing/cutting/skinning vegetables in the street gutter, often less than 20 metres of a fancy restaurant or club.