Friday, October 15, 2010

Thursday, October 14th, Shanghai China – Expo Day

Thursday morning, October 14th...we woke up at 3am and decided to try our luck with the Chinese Pavilion. We heard from the guys we met at the cafe that a reservation was needed, but was worth the wait (which is not always the case!) so we researched it a bit and found that we needed to be in line at 6am for the 9am entry to try our luck at getting a reservation. We got ready and headed to the madhouse. People were running all over the place to get in line for the next line into the expo. It started to rain and we were fine because we were saradined into the line with hundreds of people with umbrellas. The vendors pestered us for baby chairs to sit on and ponchos and we watched people eat bao tsu and soy milk, as we stood hungry and impatient. We met a woman who was a Chinese woman who lived in Switzerland in line, there is always someone who speaks English somewhere, right when I'm talking about the stinky guy in front of me thinking no one understands me! But she was nice and was surprised with my height, she asked in every American was that tall. I noticed I had to represent all Americans in China basically. I also noticed that the expo/Chinese government had to be lying about the 5% foreigner rate at the Expo. It was about 99.9% Chinese to .1% foreigners.

We waited 3 hours and finally got the reservation! It said we had to go to the Chinese pavilion at 8:30pm and we got up a 3am...hmmm, tiring day ahead. Since we could not get into China, we headed to the theme pavilion next to it called Life Sunshine Pavilion (great names here). We figured out that these theme pavilions were usually a lot better than the country pavilions and were less about propaganda and more about great technologies and felt more like a museum.

One of our favorite places in the Life Sunshine pavilion was a story of six families all over the world and their different lives in the city. One from Shanghai, Netherlands, Australia, America, Africa and South America. Their different cultures and ways of living were videoed and statistics of life in those cities were shown. Numbers on fresh water, working hours and if they lock their door plus a ton more were shown. Very interesting for us indeed. They had wax figures of all the families and in front of the white family from Arizona a Chinese woman grabbed me and took a picture..I was now apart of this exhibit. Of course people stared, but now people were looking at me like I was apart of the American family and they learned more about me as I learned about the Shanghai family. Another woman asked for a picture with me and spoke in Chinese about my height (Lucas told me later) and gave me her 2 year old to hold. A bunch of people took pictures as I held this little boy with a bald head and bangs. Weird and hilarious feeling.

After, we went straight to Zone C, the European zone to try our luck at cutting lines. With a passport from the country you can go in VIP, so we got to get into France with Lucas. France was extremely disappointing, maybe one of the worst big pavilions. It was a bunch of projected images of France like I was watching a tv show about historical sites in Paris. The theme was about the senses (even though it was supposed to be a green theme like the rest of the expo). You got to smell coffee and pastries in one part, touch tiles from France in another (lame), see pictures of the Eiffel Tower (super lame), go past a random Louis Vitton ad campaign and you could play these video games where you popped bubbles, which was fun but gave France a grade of FAIL. They also had a cafe that served meaty meat dishes and wine. A glass of wine was over $100!, which would be probably a month on a Chinese salary.

We met a guy on our first night that was a German working at the German pavilion. He let us go VIP into Germany and that was very much appreciated because the line was horrendous here too. Germany was one of our favorite pavilions because it stuck to the green theme and was interactive. They showcased world changing green technologies from Germany while also having fun and letting people look like a gnome, play with snow-globes and play a puzzle game with augmented reality. The main attractions was this massive hanging ball in a three story room. It used the energy of people's voices to swing around in circles and side to side, definitely pre-programmed but the idea and show were amazing.

Since we were master line avoiders we tried our luck at the foreigner card. I headed to the Norway pavilion and told them I was Norweign (one quarter Norweign counts!) and they let me in without a passport! Not too interesting of a pavilion, but we skipped another wait..

We tried that at Ireland (about 1/4 Irish works too!) but the evil Chinese man in the green jacket pretended to look Irish wanted my Irish passport. This didn't work at Canada either! I was trying the white girl card - that I could look like most of these countries, but it wasn't working anymore! Sri Lanka worked for Lucas so we got a couple, so far so good.

Next was the USA pavilion. I got VIP for my passport and it was another terrible line. This place was one huge corporate ad campaign. Freaky American propaganda, ad campaigns (brought to you by Pepsi, Chevron, Johnson & Johnson, P&G etc.) and was pretty bare. We found out later from a staff member that America almost didn't even come to the expo, and couldn't ask the government for 100 million dollars for a temp building standing for 6 months with no profit in China, and that made perfect sense. They decided to come to the expo last minute and were completely funded by corporations..good for the American economy, bad for the expo. The staff member was really knowledgable and helped us pick a couple other pavilions to go to in the next few days...

By now it was about 6pm and we were pooped. Being shoved around by the Chinese, smelling dirty trash and hearing the spitting sound throughout the whole speech from Obama in the US pavilion was a bit tiring for me. We met another local Chinese and found out more about the Chinese pavilion. We did not have to wait for our time at 8pm and the line is usually 2 hours with the reservation! We ran down there for our first peak at our favorite pavilion. The outside is so beautiful and enormous. The bright red exterior and inverted shape fascinates me still and we continued to photograph it from every angle.

The Chinese pavilion was pretty amazing, the biggest attraction was this massive scroll of ancient Kaifeng showing the Qing Ming Festival (the Chinese Mona Lisa) but it was animated on a large screen hundreds of feet long, twisting through this room. It was really amazing and seemed real. There was also a weird ride that was completely over my head because they didn't translate it. It seemed like a winter-wonderland in the clouds and I cannot understand what the hell that had to do with anything about China or the green theme, but it was entertaining and scary - rolling backwards towards the other cars is not fun.

We headed down stairs viewing painting from young Chinese children that looked like masterpieces and the last part was a waterfall that spelled out Chinese characters. The scroll was the main attraction and very cool to look at and I'm glad I got to see this exhibit from the inside. Tired and feeling dead, we headed home by taxi and knocked out like every other night!

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="533" caption="China Pavilion!"][/caption]