I was a little worried because on Sunday there had been over 390,000 people reported as being at the Expo, but I was confident my Tuesday choice would be great. I took the metro (orange line number 7) to Gate 6. It was literally right off the metro. I walked up to the ticket counter, and only had to wait for one person, and paid 160RMB for an all day ticket. (That's about $25USD) Walking in was pretty amazing and I was so glad that there seemed to be no one there. I walked past at least a football field's length of people corrals that looped back and forth and couldn't even start to think about how miserable it would be to have to wait in a line that long in the humidity and heat with people all around me. I seriously walked right in, I had to go through security, but again only had to wait for one person ahead of me and then I was there, I was in the Shanghai Expo!
For anyone who doesn't know the Expo is the World's Fair. It's like a gigantic display of different countries and what they're all about. Their histories, current stories and future plans are plastered on their pavilion walls along with pictures of the country and people, and if you're lucky a booth to buy something awesome.
In preparation for my Expo day I did some research and decided in advance which pavilions I would visit. I knew that the China Pavilion, Japan Pavilion, Saudi Arabia Pavilion and a few others were super popular so I had made up my mind that I would forgo those and just make sure to enjoy China while I'm here, visit Japan and hopefully go to Saudi one day. I picked a few specific pavilions that I really wanted to see, and decided that on top of those I would go in every pavilion with a short line. This plan worked out amazingly well, especially because only 220,000 people supposedly showed up. (Best news of all is that it only rained for about 10 minutes all day.)
Oh man, I went everywhere! Here's a list of the pavilions I went inside: (in no particular order)
-Democratic People's Republic of Korea
-Republic of the Congo
-Democratic Republic of the Congo
That's 79 countries! I saw 79 countries in 7 hours. I know, I'm pretty damn awesome. You'll notice that I skipped things like: Germany, Italy, Spain, Russia, US, and other large pavilions. Those all had really long lines and I wanted to get the biggest bang for my buck, which I feel like I did. Now let's talk about my favorites.
1- I loved the little "joint pavilions." What are those you ask. Well, some countries didn't build gigantic buildlings, likely because they don't have a lot of money, so instead they shared very large conference halls and had rooms that had everything in them. I loved them the best because I felt like they put everything they could into those little rooms. Most of the stand alone pavilions were architecturally awesome, but upon entering were rather a let down. (Which was another reason for my skipping Germany, Spain, Italy and such.) I really liked Yemen's room a lot, then again they didn't have anything in their room except a lot of little stalls full of local things you could buy. Necklaces, tea sets, clothes, rugs, shoes, anything you wanted you could get which I thought was awesome.
The many of the countries I saw were in the joint pavilions. Almost all of Africa was in one GIANT pavilion and all the rooms were along the perimeter with booths from each country selling local goods in the middle. I bought a necklace from Gambia. I thought the best rooms in Africa were Kenya and Mauritania. They had the most interesting items and had the most on display, plus Kenya had an interactive area to make replicas of local pottery. Mauritania had a couple of very large stuffed camels and lots of mannequins dressed in local garb.
2- Lithuania - I really like this pavilion because from the outside it didn't look like anything other than a very large building with a picture of Lithuania on the side, but inside was pretty cool. It was designed like you were looking up at a giant hot air balloon and you'd walk up a spiral staircase to stand in the basket and there were screens in a 360 view and it was like you were taking a hot air balloon ride across the tops of major cities in Lithuania. They also had a nice little cafe on the way out where you could try local cuisine.
3- Peru - Peru had something similar to Lithuania. You walked up into a giant rotunda and had a 360 view of the streets of Peru and it was like you were walking down the street in a local market. That rotunda fed into a long hallway in the building that was set up to look like the market in the video and you could buy local goods.
4- New Zealand - I liked the New Zealand pavilion because I felt like it did a really good job of representing the country in picture form rather than with a lot of text. Not only was the outside of the building amazing but the inside was full of fun things to look at and touch.
You'll notice that I didn't go in the Uzbekistan pavilion even though it was listed as part of my reason for going. I got to the pavilion and it was closed! They were doing all the performances at another site in the expo that required ticket purchases and reservations. I was a bit disappointed. It's okay though because I plan on going back to see: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan, Singapore and a couple others. Plus my camera died about 2 hours before I left so I need to go back for more pictures.
Overall I thought the expo was AMAZING. I can't believe all the buildings that were built just for this event. I mean, Denmark flew out water, and the statue of the Little Mermaid to be part of their pavilion, which was nice, but not as cool as everyone kept saying. I will say that there was one thing about the Expo which I thought was a bit of a pain. Passports. The Expo decided it would be fun, and I'm sure it is, to create fake travel passports and every pavilion has a special stamp to go in the book. Well because some people just want the stamp they push ahead in lines and then create a bottle neck. I don't know how I'd fix this with out getting rid of the passports all together, but it was just something that was obnoxious.
I was also famous at the Expo. I had 7, yes 7 random people ask to have their picture taken with me. I always say yes when that happens and smile and hug them for the picture. They all seemed very delighted. Sadly I do not have a single picture of myself at the Expo, I'm a little wary of letting people hold my camera.
At the end of the day I went home smelling really gross, and was exhausted. I seriously walked around for 7 hours. I plan on going back to the Expo some time next week for an evening pass, which is 5pm to midnight. I've read that it's not as crowded then and the temperature is much more reasonable, plus Bob can go and take my picture in front of all the pavilions.
I haven't uploaded any pictures to this post because I took over 150. I've uploaded them to my flickr account which you can access here. I'll slowly be adding titles to the pictures. I know, I'm lame, and I won't lie, I'm doing it because I'm exhausted today and I just wrote everything here.
Loves and kisses,