Expo Awesomeness!

Shanghai Travel Blog

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Shanghai metro

People who made my travels more enjoyable: Michelle (USA)

Let me start by saying this was one of the most memorable travel experiences of my entire life. Words cannot describe how cool, awesome, exciting, invigorating, intriguing and downright special the Shanghai Expo was.

Note: I almost didn't go. How lame is that? The answer: Pretty damn lame!

Michelle and I had planned to see the Expo for weeks, but when it came time to go, I almost couldn't drag myself out of the hotel. I'd been so miserable in the heat that I threw a bit of a tantrum and sat pouting in the hotel room. Michelle prepared to go without me, but like any child, I didn't want to be left behind. So, poor attitude and all, I bedrudgingly got dressed and prepared for another day in the brutal heat.

Entrance to the Expo
Only this time, I was in for a very special surprise. 

Shanghai had done a tremendous amount of work to prepare for the Expo. This included expanding the Subway system and building special stops for the Expo. This is no small feat, and after living in Canada I can truly attest to that. Shanghai had an entire subway line built in less time than it's taken Toronto to add two stops to one of its lines. Comparatively, the Shanghai Metro has 12 lines, the TTC has 3 (4 if you count the Scarborough RT)... Pathetic!

Once out of the metro, Michelle and I found the entrance to the Expo park. We got in line to buy our tickets and out of nowhere a Chinese woman cut in front of me so she could join her friends up ahead. Maybe I was in a bad mood from earlier, or a week in China had just impacted my patience.

So excited!
I firmly grabbed the woman by the shoulders and she turned and looked at me in terror. Laowai's are rather unpredictable and frightening... She started to say something to me in Chinese, but I just smiled and physically moved her until she was behind me. She attempted to protest, but I let her know that it would be physically impossible for her to cut me in this line. Michelle and I spent the rest of the wait in good spirits as this lady and her friends looked at us in complete fear and disbelief. 

It was going to be a good day!

Once Michelle and I entered the park we were kindly greeted with a view of the US pavilion. It did not have the most beautiful architecture, but I was proud of the show they put on. They had a nice dance routine, but what impressed me most was they chose to highlight the diversity of the country.

USA!
Latino, Asian, South Asian, African American, White, Native Indian... all were represented at the US Pavilion. And this made me happy, because its our diversity and acceptance of differences that makes us a great nation.

Instead of entering the US pavilion, we decided to check out some of the smaller venues. Pavilions like Japan, the UK and Saudi Arabia were impossible to enter (unless you wanted to wait for hours in line). I'm talking worse than Disney Land lines... So we happened across the Peru pavilion. This was our first stop.

Each pavilion had a particular theme. Peru focused on the history of its people, the natural beauty of its geography and how it was modernizing its economy. I thought Peru was a particularly interesting pavilion, but only because I studied a bit of Latin American history while in University.

Our first pavilion, Peru
Peru was home to the Incan empire, one of Latin America's most powerful and developed communities. Along with the Aztecs (who were based in Mexico and Central America), the Incan's were dominate rulers before the Conquistadors invaded the continent. 

After Peru, we visited Angola and then a larger Africa-centric pavilion. It was very fun to walk around inside and see all the different crafts. I even found one painter who had prepared a beautiful portrait of Obama and the first lady. So proud :) 

Each pavilion had a different theme. Some focussed on history, others on tourism, while some even focussed on sustainability (a key theme of the Expo overall). So which was my favorite? Iceland. The Icelandic pavilion was incredible. The building was a simple cube, and once inside everyone took a seat on the cool concrete floor.

Iceland pavilion (Best of the expo)
Once everyone was settled a 5-d movie began to play. 5-d you say?! 4 walls and the ceiling! The film was so incredibly and the scenery was so beautiful that I vowed to make my next big travel destination Iceland. Sure enough, a year a several months later I traveled to Iceland with my brother Derek.

A short clip of the movie film can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CClvnaRYsdY

We spent the rest of the day traveling from one pavilion to the next. Here is a list of all the ones we visited: Peru, Angola, Austria, Ireland, Iceland, Ukraine, Norway, New Zealand, Vietnam, North Korea, Sweden, Finland (in that order).

One other pavilion worth mentioning was the North Korean pavilion.

We are le tired (and sunburned)
This pavilion had its own take on modern history and touted the economic might of the land known as Choseon (former name of Korea). Before we left the pavilion I decided to purchase a book (written in English) about the modern history of Korea. On my flight back to the US, I read the entire book. Some fascinating ommissions were made... and according to this history, the US never dropped an atomic bomb on Japan. Instead, Kim Il Sung and his soldiers single-handedly liberated Korea from the Japanese at the end of WWII. It reminded me that "history" is just that, a story. It is a story told from multiple perspectives, and while we know that this perspective was false, it's always important to remember that no one history is perfectly accurate. Five people could see the exact same event and interpret that event five different ways... Food for thought!

Michelle and I stayed until the park closed and then we made our way through the throngs of people back to the subway. Naturally, things were completed crowded and overrun with people, but I did not care. It had been an amazing day and an amazing adventure!

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Shanghai metro
Shanghai metro
Entrance to the Expo
Entrance to the Expo
So excited!
So excited!
USA!
USA!
Our first pavilion, Peru
Our first pavilion, Peru
Iceland pavilion (Best of the expo)
Iceland pavilion (Best of the expo)
We are le tired (and sunburned)
We are le tired (and sunburned)
Obamarama
Obamarama
UK Pavilion (Definitely the cooles…
UK Pavilion (Definitely the coole…
At your service at expo
At your service at expo
Shanghai mailbox. Reminds me of En…
Shanghai mailbox. Reminds me of E…
Construction in Shanghai
Construction in Shanghai
Tall buildings in Puxi
Tall buildings in Puxi
Donots or Donuts?
Donots or Donuts?
Angola
Angola
Africa pavilion
Africa pavilion
Entrance to Africa pavilion
Entrance to Africa pavilion
Austria pavilion
Austria pavilion
Austrian stage
Austrian stage
Concert
Concert
Outside the Austrian pavilion
Outside the Austrian pavilion
Another angle
Another angle
Ireland pavilion
Ireland pavilion
Irish home in the 1970s
Irish home in the 1970's
My family name! ONeill!
My family name! O'Neill!
See, Michelle and I are related
See, Michelle and I are related
Irish flag
Irish flag
Ukraine pavilion. A Norwegian pavi…
Ukraine pavilion. A Norwegian pav…
So hot right now
So hot right now
Iceland video
Iceland video
Waterfall in Iceland
Waterfall in Iceland
Beach in Iceland
Beach in Iceland
Norge!
Norge!
Norway entrance
Norway entrance
Long lines
Long lines
People making out in the Norway pa…
People making out in the Norway p…
Inside the Norway pavilion
Inside the Norway pavilion
Europe!
Europe!
Bridge over the expo
Bridge over the expo
Outside the New Zealand pavilion
Outside the New Zealand pavilion
New Zealand :)
New Zealand :)
Expo animations
Expo animations
Another shot
Another shot
Waterfall under the Asia exhibit
Waterfall under the Asia exhibit
Asia pavilion
Asia pavilion
China pavilion
China pavilion
Another angle
Another angle
Saudi Arabia pavilion
Saudi Arabia pavilion
대한민국
대한민국
Vietnam pavilion
Vietnam pavilion
Inside the Vietnam pavilion
Inside the Vietnam pavilion
Joseon!
Joseon!
North Korea pavilion
North Korea pavilion
DPRK join
DPRK join
Juche
Juche
Tower of the Juche Idea
Tower of the Juche Idea
North Korea is apparently a paradi…
North Korea is apparently a parad…
I told the woman that I had been t…
I told the woman that I had been …
Germany pavilion
Germany pavilion
Shanghai
photo by: Chokk