Sunday, May 30, 2010

World Expo

After much anticipation, we finally made it to the World Expo yesterday. A modern day World's Fair, it is being held in Shanghai for six months, from May - October. The theme is "Better City, Better Life" and the focus is on sustainable urban living. More than 190 countries are represented - many in individual pavilions and some in shared buildings (i.e., the Africa Pavilion, the Caribbean Pavilion, and the Central and South America Pavilion.) Over 70 million visitors are expected during the Expo's run and the entire city has had a major overhaul to accommodate them.
We weren't sure what exactly to expect, given all of the hype we've been hearing since getting here last summer. However, it easily lived up to all of it and made for an incredible day. We walked through all of the country sections (grouped loosely by continent) and along the Huangpu River, where they've turned old industrial buildings into arts and exhibition centers and the banks of the river into beautiful gardens (see the middle picture above.)

The crown jewel of the Expo is the China Pavilion (the red structure behind Jeff in the top picture), but many other buildings wowed us as well. In the picture with Jeff, you can also see the Israel Pavilion, which is meant to represent waves crashing against sand. The bottom picture is Russia's pavilion. Other amazing buildings included the UK's, which looks like it was modeled after a porcupine; Spain's, which is made of giant baskets; the Netherlands, a Seuss-like maze of houses called "Happy Street", Denmark's, which had a spiraling bike track; and, South Korea's, which was a giant geometric configuration of cut-out shapes. Most of the bigger buildings had wait times of several hours just to get inside, so we were only able to get into Lithuania, Canada (styled by Cirque de Soleil), and Columbia, as well as the Africa and Caribbean buildings. We're planning on going back, though, before we leave, so will try to get inside some of the others (including Japan's, which is supposed to have the world's fanciest toilet.)

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