Shanghai Expo 2010, Part 1

3 06 2010

So the Expo is huge – 5.28 square kilometers, which is what, 3.5 square miles, roughly? According to the Expo 2010 site, not exactly a wealth of knowledge, 246 countries participated in the Expo. I made a rough estimate of how many countries’ pavilions we saw, according to how many stamps we got at said pavilions, and how many I can remember that we didn’t get stamps at. And that number is … hang on, counting … 38 countries. So we saw roughly 15 percent of the countries’ pavilions, at least if the number provided by the Expo is accurate. In 12 hours. Like I said, big place.

The Expo site is situated on a stretch of the Huangpu River in South-Central Shanghai. No doubt lots of poor Chinese and La Mien shops were cleared out to make room for the Expo, so our thanks go out to those who were there before. Mmm…la mien. There were several metro stops near the site, but we chose the one on the north side, which actually ended up being a mistake, since we had to walk through the north side of the Expo, which consisted solely of business pavilions like Coca-Cola and China Mobile. When we got to the river, we found a dock where you could be ferried across the river to either the Asia Pavilion or the Europe Pavilion. I chose the Asia Pavilion, so Missy can blame me for us seeing lots of tiny Asian countries like the Kyrgyz Republic on our visit. It was chaotic getting on the ferry, with the Chinese tourists exhibiting their worst traits of pushing, shoving and running to get to the ferry which wasn’t going anywhere anyway. Missy ended up getting in a scrap with some old Chinese woman who apparently thought the world would end if she didn’t get on the ferry IMMEDIATELY. Here is a picture of me in the crowd on the ferry with the Huangpu behind us.

That’s right, an Albuquerque shirt, albeit one with sahuaros on it, which don’t actually grow in New Mexico.

After disembarking, we walked to the edge of the Asia side of the pavilion, hoping to work our way across the world – I guess. I’m not sure there was a plan, really. The first pavilion we went into was the Tajikistan one. Yes, there is a country called Tajikistan. Unfortunately, it, like many of the small countries’ pavilions, it was underwhelming. More like a small chamber of commerce office or science fair project than anything else. We quickly knocked out Kyrgystan, Bangladesh, Maldives, Laos, Myanmar, Mongolia and Uzbekistan. We also tried to see the Iraq pavilion, but it was still under construction. I guess they have other stuff going on right now. In this picture, Missy expresses disappointment about Iraq.

Iraq being closed rendered me unable to use the tagline “Visit Iraq: It’s a gas.” Maybe next time. The first truly impressive pavilion we visited was the Vietnam one, which was quite beautiful and interesting, belying the reputation that the country seems to have among a lot of Westerners who travel there. The entire exterior was covered with bamboo, and the inside, which had instruments set up for musicians to play, looked like a cathedral. This is the interior of the Vietnam pavilion

Next up, Missy with more!

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