Well Expo has been closed for a few weeks now and we were lucky enough to go the week before it was closed. We had kept putting it off because of crowds, the heat and no time, but we finally said we have to go or we will miss it!
We decided to go one Sunday and it was a misty light rain off and on, so we figured it would not be too busy. WRONG! We got there and were so many people on the street leading up to the gates. We went to 2 different gates and there was no ticket booth. Finally we found someone who spoke English and directed to where we could buy tickets. Of course we had walked past this place, but it was not marked from the direction we were walking. We must remember to turn around when we can’t find something…. Many times things are NOT labelled at all or on the side of the most common route— you just have to know.
So we get to the ticket area and there are numerous lines with thousands of people. Each lane is numbered, but what does that mean? John asked and the line we were in was for the cheaper tickets after 5PM. Figures and hence the ticket window being closed! So we found where we had to go and after 1 hour wasted we had our tickets and got inside. We had to go through a security check x-ray bags, metal detector, wand the whole bit! Once inside we tried to find where the Canadian Pavillion was and it was another hide and seek. We stopped to eat first and try to figure it out from the map. John stopped at the first place we saw… Burger King where apparently you cannot have it your way at Expo. Everything was a packaged meal and no extra cheese, no onion or whatever. You got it the way they made it. Drink with that? coke or coke ? They were bagged and ready to go. Very efficient and very cold. After we left our pleasurable dining experience we found a YOU ARE HERE map and headed down the road to where the North American Pavillions were. We saw really interesting buildings made with colourful materials like red plastic balls, things that look like crushed colourful alumnium cans, sticks woven like a large basket. We couldn’t get into many as the wait times were 3-4 hours each!
If you show your passport you get to go to head of the line at your countries Pavillion, so we went to the Canadian one first. It was made of cedar and the smell reminded me of camping up North or in Nova Scotia running through the woods when we were kids. We took photos of each other and a nice Chinese man offered to take our photo together. John was decked out in a Maple Leaf Jersey and I had my Canada olympic t-shirt on.
We went to the employee at the front of the line and he showed us where to go. We got in a side entrance ahead of the 3 hour line up. They gave us little paper Canadian flags and we met 2 guys from Toronto. Many people came by and wanted to know where to get the flags… I guess they were reserved for Canadians Only. A young woman who worked there saw us as she was coming on shift and said “Oh fellow Canadians. Where are you from?” Turned out she was from BC. She said “Welcome home” and gave us a big hug. It felt so good to feel a little bit of home so far away. Later I thought about it… it was a bit strange to be hugging someone who I don’t know, but we shared that Canadian connection. Being so far from everything that is familiar it is sometimes nice to have that brief contact with someone from home.
Inside there was a 3-D video wall displaying images of traditional Canadian icons (beaver, inukshuk etc.) and then modern things like computers and cities. There was also a water feature that had images and colours projected onto it. Because Expo was about making a “better city and better life” there was bikes that would power video screens that projected images as you peddled. The images seemed to go faster as you peddled faster.
There was another movie screen showing images of a different cities through a windshield. Then we went out to where the restaurant and shops were. That was it.
The lines were still way too long for any of the pavilions, but we got into Cuba because it was so small and not anything except a few pictures, TV with images of the country and a replica of a bar and cuban cigar making. No one was there to demonstrate though… probably why it was so easy to get in.
We walked around and took pictures of all the interesting buildings and the wait was still 3-4 hours, so we decided to take the ferry across to the other side and head home since it was now a light drizzle. First we had some Belgian waffles…. yum hot off the iron.
We found the ferry and went up top to have a bit of a view of the lights and Expo. There were mostly locals and one guy had to take a picture of John. I guess we were the novelty and they wanted to see how many foreigners they could take photos of! We met a nice Chinese lady who was from Toronto and we chatted to her as we crossed to the other side of Expo (it was on the Puxi -old- and Pudong -new – side of the river). On the other side (Puxi) there was less to see and it was now raining and late. We decided to go since we had the Expo experience, not as much as we would have liked, but enough to say we’ve been there.
I will have to post my photos to the online album so you can see them.
Take care and thanks for reading. Stay tuned there is always more…