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Tuesday, June 26, 2012


I love expos!  The very first was London in 1851 with the Crystal Palace (above).   Remember the movie, Meet Me in St. Louis with Judy Garland?  That fair was in 1904.  I was not able go to either, but my first was in Seattle, 1962, just about the time I graduated from Stanford.  Since then I've been to expos in Montreal (1967), San Antonio (1968), Osaka (1970), Knoxville (1982), Tsukuba (1985), Vancouver (1986), Seville (1992), Lisbon (1998), Hannover (2000), Aichi (2005) and Shanghai 2010. But this is the year of the Yeosu (pronounced like the Japanese guy, YASU) Ocean Expo.  To be official, the real expo's are now held every five years, so the one in Shanghai was a universal fair, and those  in other years are "merely" special exhibitions.

The first featuring the seas occurred in Okinawa in 1975.  I was not able to participate, but did visit Aquapolis (right), the showcase exhibit, several times.  The next ocean expo was in Lisbon 28 years later, and I was on one of their planning committees, but, alas, there was little of the ocean observable.

Yeosu edged out Tangier, Morocco when the International Exhibitions Bureau selected this Korean city in 2007.  Fortuitously, the Secretary-General of the United Nations today is Ban Ki-moon from Korea.

The mascots, Yeony and Suny, represent a water droplet and plankton, respectively:

This quote brings perspective to these international events.  You think your life is tough?  Here is what Helen Keller said:

If that name does not quite register in your memory, she is that child in The Miracle Worker who was born blind AND deaf, but went on to graduate from college.  Mark Twain said it well:

So true.  This "special" expo site covers 670 acres (half the size of the recent China site) on which sit 76 exhibitions from 105 countries (Shanghai had 250 countries and organizations).  As Seoul is 250 miles away, and Busan only 112 miles, I thought I'd stay in this city that was once known as Pusan.  Mistake!  The KTX high speed train takes 3.5 hours from Seoul, and brings you right to the site, for a cost of around $45.  I had to walk 10 minutes from the Westin Chosun to the subway station, spend 45 minutes on a train, then transfer to a bus, which took 2.5 hours.  Finally, I had to catch a confusing shuttle to the fair.  Try doing this when you can't speak the language.  Then I had to repeat in reverse, walking back to my hotel late at night.  With waiting time (you just can't afford to miss that bus, for the next one is 3 hours later), I spent a roundtrip of 10 hours and could only afford 4 hours at the Expo.  The total roundtrip cost was around $40.  If you go and have time, take a cruise ship that stays two whole days at the expo port.

I might further mention that the Shanghai Expo drew 73 million visitors, while Yeosu will only attract, perhaps, 8 million.  I noticed that 99% of the fairgoers were Asian, and, I don't think I saw even one black person.  There was a lot of hoopla about attempting to make advanced reservations online, which I tried to do, and failed.  However, I walked into the two I most wanted to visit:  Marine Civilization and City Pavilion and Marine Industry and Technology Pavilion.  I also noticed there was no line for the aquarium, which I could not reserve online, but had to bypass because I was rushing to return to Busan.

But on to my Yeosu experience:

I have long advocated Hawaii hosting an expo, and you need to read one of my HuffPos to understand why.  That  quote above provides a hint.  I took a lot of photos, and without much explanation, here are some interesting architecture:

I asked several information booths which was the best restaurant.  They all said Belgium.  So I went, ordered their special, and got:

A stew with rice, small chopped salad and Belgium fries, which tasted the same as French fries.  Cost, $35.  Oh, there is a Belgium beer not shown.  Anyway, all the restaurants I poked my head into are essentially of the fast food mode.  The most disappointing was that not one restaurant served kalbi.  Apparently, it missed the cut because it takes too much work.  The colors were spectacular:

Here are some ocean gadgets and cities:

I found the experience, even with the transport ordeal, worthwhile.  There was excitement, innovation and color.  Best Ocean Expo I've ever attended.  Next, Milan in 2015.  Kazakstan and Liege (Belgium) are being considered for a special expo in 2017    In the running for 2020 (again, the universal expos are held every 5 years) are Izmir (Turkey), Ayutthaya (Thailand), Yekaterinburg (Russia), Sao Paulo (Brazil) and Dubai (UAE).   My guess is Sao Paulo.  Hawaii for 2025?  2020 is the VISION year, so a shame.

This posting is already too long, but I just had to add my view as I am today adjusting this article:

Here is a closer view of Haeundae Beach, which looks like Ipanema in Rio:

It's not totally clear, but I see at least a dozen construction cranes.  There are even more here.  Hawaii:  when was our last new resort, or hotel?  Mind you, I'm not for more tourists, but that is our only real revenue generator.

Oh, when I got off the bus on my way back last night, just at the foot of my subway station was a Family Mart and Kentucky Fried Chicken.  So:

The whole meal with beer was around $7.50.


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