goodbye expo 2010

Last year at this time, Shanghai was completely in Expo mode. The Expo was inescapable. There were tourists milling about, prices were higher than normal, statues of Haibao (the blue Gumby-like mascot) were EVERYWHERE, and the news was basically constant coverage of the Expo. It got to be really annoying, but when the Expo closed in October, it really closed. It got quiet. And the Expo was never heard from again. Sort of.

The statue of Haibao that was once prominently displayed on the campus of ECNU is still on the campus of ECNU. Except that once the Expo closed, it got moved to the storage/junk yard in the back corner of the campus. Where it still is. The only reason why I know it’s there is because I take a shortcut that winds between buildings. Depressing, but despite his ill treatment, Haibao still looks quite cheerful in his bright blue.

Oh, and remember this story? At the time I thought his comment about kissing him came out of left field, but now that my Chinese has improved, I realize that he was making a joke about my dismal Chinese skills. In Mandarin, 请问 (pronounced qing3 wen4) means “May I ask?”, which sounds awfully similar to 请吻 (pronounced qing3 wen3), which means “May I kiss?”. So yeah, mystery solved. Good gosh that was a long time ago.

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gfw, what now?

The Expo is over and done with. I was hoping that the Great Firewall would be relaxed a bit with that event concluded, but not so. Instead, sites I had access to last week now seem to be blocked. Then again, the Asian Games have started in Guangzhou so maybe that’s why. I heard that when the Olympics were held in Beijing, a whole buncha sites were blocked but were later unblocked … so here’s hoping. For example, this blog. I can no longer see my own blog. Thankfully I set it up so I can post via e-mail because the GFW’s position on blogs is constantly changing. But IMDB, which had been blocked back in January but reopened a few weeks after, now seems to be blocked once again. Nothing serious, just a bit annoying.

In other completely unrelated news, I’m busy. Busy busy busy me. School, work, family, graduate school. Busy busy busy. Oh well. Better busy than dead.

no halloween here

Today is October 31, 2010. Today is Halloween, but you wouldn’t guess it if you were in Shanghai. Here it’s just like any normal day. Stores aren’t shelling out candy, there aren’t pumpkin decorations all over the place, and I haven’t seen kids scampering about in costume. Yesterday I saw two babies dressed up though, one cow and one pumpkin, but I’m not really counting them. It appears that America’s consumerization of the holiday has not stretched to China, but then again most Chinese people have no clue about Halloween anyway. It’s really kind of sad for me. So no Halloween this year. Too much effort for no reward.

What I have noticed, however, is that Chinese people love rainbow colors. Almost as much as they love fireworks and twinkle lights. Today is also the last day of Shanghai World Expo 2010. So below is a picture from the Shanghai Corporate Pavilion. Unfortunately part of me could not help but think of Albert Speer’s cathedral of light when I saw those searchlights. These lights sometimes moved around so thankfully it didn’t have the same effect, but for part of the time they pointed straight upwards and … yeah.

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expo at night

On October 18, 2010, I braved the Shanghai Expo 2010 for the second (and last) time. I arrived at the park around 5 PM and left at 10 PM since the metro closes around 11 and I was a bit paranoid about missing it. Also because I was exhausted by the end.

Went to a total of five pavilions, two of which (Denmark and UK) because I really wanted to see them, two (Luxembourg and Argentina) because they had no line, and one (Shanghai Corporate) because I was already there. Since I went at night, lines were much shorter than they would have been during the day. Denmark had a 20-minute wait, UK around one hour, and Shanghai Corporate about 20 minutes as well. All in all, I’d have to agree with the majority of people in saying that Expo is overrated. Sure it’s fairly interesting … but not enough to warrant the hassle it requires. The pavilions themselves are the attraction, not what they house. I generally wandered around the Europe section before heading to the Puxi side. Even though I was curious about the Axis of Evil pavilions, I heard they weren’t actually that interesting and decided against trekking way over there.

The below picture is from inside the Denmark pavilion. It was a pretty cool pavilion, but I kept thinking: Wow, this would never fly in the US. It’s basically one giant circular ramp with the statue of the Little Mermaid at the center. I kept picturing a person in a wheelchair getting pushed down. Also, there were some of the most hazardous stairs in that pavilion that were of awkward depth-height ratio and there wasn’t always a railing! UK pavilion was fairly cool, but it was more of an object than a pavilion. Luxembourg and Argentina were pointless and Shanghai Corporate was a fascinating exterior with little thought given to interior. I’ve noticed that my camera has a lot of trouble focusing at night, so most of my pictures are blurry, which is sad. I need a new one … eventually. So that’s the recap for now. I’ll probably tell more later. Cheers.

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another creeper

Yeah I know I posted earlier today, but this one will be short. I don’t have class tomorrow and this is the next-to-last week of Expo, so I figured I’d have a go at it. Lots of pictures and stories to share, but that’s for another post. This is just going to be a quick story about a creeper. I just can’t seem to get away from them. I left Expo around 10 PM, so it was already dark. Spent five hours there and my feet are killing me. Anyway, I left from a different gate than the one I came in at, so I asked one of the guards where the subway station was. I’ll do this in dialogue format.

Me: (in Chinese) Where’s the subway station?
Guard 1: (looks at me, then to a fellow guard) English.
Guard 2: (walks over, in English) Yes?
Me: (in English) Where’s the nearest metro?
Guard 2: Huh?
Me: Where is subway station?
Guard 2: (gives me directions)
Me: Great, thanks. (and then I smile … because I’m nice)
Guard 2: (as I’m turning away from him) Do you want to kiss me?
Me: Um … no. (and then I run across the street)

I don’t know why the first guard beckoned over the second one in the first place. Later on I asked a different guard for directions again because I wasn’t sure if I was going in the right direction and he understood me fine and answered back in Chinese. No problem there. It was really weird too because they were all in uniform so when that guard asked me if I wanted to kiss him … just too creepy. I’ve always held people in uniform in higher esteem, but China’s a different animal.

the expo

Photographs of national pavilions from the Shanghai Expo, taken June 12, 2010.

  • China – “Chinese Wisdom in Urban Development”
  • Republic of Korea – “Friendly City, Colorful Life”
  • Macao – “Spirit of Cultures, Essence of Harmony”
  • Japan – “Wa: Harmony of Hearts, Harmony of Arts”
  • Russia – “New Russia: City and Citizen”
  • United Arab Emirates – “The Power of Dreams”
  • India – “Cities of Harmony”
  • United Kingdom – “Building on the Past, Shaping Our Future”
  • Israel – “Innovation for Life: Dialog with Nature History, and Future Needs”

[NOTE: This post originally appeared on a now-deleted blog and is reposted here for my own sake.]