Thursday, October 21, 2010
2010 SHANGHAI EXPO
The first world's fair or exposition (shortened to expo) was London 1851. Seattle in 1962 was my initial experience, and since then I've been to most of them. The next one in 2012 will be Yaeso, South Korea, and no decision has been made yet for any events in the longer term future. Canada is being groomed for the 2017 timeframe, but the big one is in 2020. San Paulo, Sydney/Brisbane, Copenhagen and and Manila have expressed interest, while San Francisco, Las Angeles, Las Vegas, Houston and New York have developed themes. Is there any hope for Hawaii in the Year 2020?
The Shanghai Expo, to close at the end of this month, is located on both sides of the Huangpo River, and is the largest (2 square miles and 242 organizations), most expensive ($48 billion just to prepare the site) and has already broken all attendance records. The logo is the Chinese character "shi," representing three people, while the mascot is Haibao (treasure of the sea), the blue gumby, but selection committee never heard of Gumby.
Don't think about visiting the top sites (China, Saudi Arabia, Japan), for you could stand in a slow moving line for nine hours. You can get into some country exhibits, but they are so terrible that it will not be worth your while.
Take China, for example. People begin queuing outside the gates not long after midnight. The lucky ones then sprint to the site where a limited number of coupons are given out. Then, the wait is around 6 hours to get into the pavilion. Ah, but then, they need to get in line another two hours to take the elevator up to the 12th floor to walk down through the exhibit.
Leighton Chong and I were aided by Helen Zhang (son Steven in middle), like Leighton, an intellectual property lawyer in a firm of 600 attorneys. She got us VIP passes to China and U.S. It was so nice to get in the side door and a private elevator to the top for China. The exhibit itself was barely worth even our time. But the U.S. pavilion was a total joke. Again, side entrance, and an elevator takes you up for an American meal. Alas, we had already had a Russian dinner (but they had run of of caviar). So we saw three slide shows. The third one was supposed to be in 4-D. What it was was four screens. I'm surprised there have been no riots from those who had to wait had to be pissed.
The architecture was great, weather perfect for walking (maybe ten miles?), and whole experience memorable. The Spanish and Saudia Arabia pavilions stood out. Japan's was a lavender Shrek.
That's the Chinese pavilion behind me, followed by a sunset:
Then, there was the USA, above.