Monday, June 7, 2010

Shanghai Expo - Part 1

Therese and i got out of Beijing for a few days last week and headed down to Shanghai. I was going for a tournament that weekend, and we decided to head down early to see the Expo. A few other came down early too... Tao, Baby Girl, and Leigh, his girlfriend who's visiting for the summer.

Therese and i bought these discounted entry tickets that turned out to be part of a Chinese tour group. We had to meet the group at a special hotel at 9am so we could ride a bus over and enter the Expo together. That experience by itself was a little hilarious. There were dozens of groups lined up ready to enter, but the guards made each group line up double-file. When everyone in your group was behaving, you got to race another group to the entry of the security line, and the first group to line up again got to go through security first. I've never seen the Chinese people move so fast.

Once entering the Expo, we promptly ditched our group and headed over to Zone C (America's and Europe) to meet up with BG and Leigh. The Expo itself is astonishing, massive, inspiring. The architecture is so unique and, sometimes, just plain bizarre. I did not intend to take 212 photos, but i just couldn't stop. Based on this review, i tried to plan out which ones would be worth visiting, knowing that the line for a good pavilion would be 30-90 minutes or longer. Japan was apparently about five hours. Here's a review of the Pavilions we actually entered.

The first pavilion we entered. It's not so much a "pavilion" as it is a "bar". Two of them to be exact.
  • Pros- No line. Rum. Coffee. Cigars. Awesome music. Looks cool from the outside.
  • Cons- Nothing to actually see.
  • Verdict- Eh, why not?

Canada had a very long line. However, much like Canada itself, the borders are not as tightly controlled as its rough and tough southern neighbor. Therese and I strolled in through the exit and hung out in the last area. While in the gift shop, i was confronted by a real live Canadian who was brandishing a stuffed loon. He was very excited. He explained that this stuffed loon made a sound just like an actual loon, and that he would purchase one immediately, even if it was overpriced at $25. Canadians are easily impressed.
  • Pros- Fifteen minutes used, saw about as much as i needed to see. Cool, angular building with all wooded exterior. Took picture of Most Awesome Mountie ever. At least, i assume it was a mountie.
  • Cons- Long line for (likely) little payoff.
  • Verdict- Probably not worth the wait.

The dutch are a freaky people. They are laid back, surreal, and don't seem to take themselves too seriously. I say all this as a compliment. Their pavilion, "Happy Street," was a delight. It was all outdoors and at the highest point, provides a great view of the other pavilions. Littered around the ground floor were flocks of sheep chairs. We took turns posing with one.
  • Pros- Short-ish line. Sheep = Best chairs ever, good views. Intriguing Design. Great place to watch Chinese sleeping.
  • Cons- No real information about the Netherlands.
  • Verdict- Do it.

France was a complete let down. We went in based on the review i read (France's pavilion was touted as "Most Romantic"), but it was really just a confusing exhibit. I don't even know what to say about it. I did not find the dark, overcrowded space, and the hundreds of Chinese people pushing their way forward, to be very romantic. I found it to be decidedly unromantic.
  • Pros - There's a cool, donut shaped mirror after you exit. We took a picture of ourselves in the crystal clear reflection. However, i think we could have just walked around the back for that.
  • Cons- Long-ish line (30-40 minutes), the exhibit itself.
  • Verdict- Save yourself the time.
I particularly like the lone pair of feet in the bottom left of this picture.

I'll post the rest of the write-up in a day or two-- promise!


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