Saturday, July 31, 2010

Top of the World

After our last day at the Expo, we decided to visit the tallest building in China (not counting Hong Kong or Taiwan, I think) which is the Shanghai World Financial Center.

We originally planned on seeing the sunset from the building so we left the Expo before six. However, we did not account for the crowds of tourists that also wanted to go to the top of the building. The line to buy tickets and wait for the elevator was about an hour. In the end, I was still glad to see Shanghai's magnificent night-time skyline.

I bet these photos would have turned out better if there was an open viewing deck but everything is indoors and behind big glass windows.

What a way to end our trip to Shanghai!

Monday, July 26, 2010

World Expo, Part III

On our third and last day of the Expo, we decided to visit the European Square even though we were warned of the enormous crowds. On the way there we saw the Malaysia Pavilion and made a pit stop there since the line there was moving rapidly.

However, at 9 AM the pavilion was basically filled to capacity! There was almost no room to stand and enjoy the exhibits because people were rushing in every direction.

Because my little cousin was born in New Zealand, we had to see its pavilion as well.

Then we arrived in Europe! It was a gorgeous day, albeit extremely hot and sunny.

We first went to see the Denmark Pavilion. They focused on the environment. For example, they had bikes that one could ride throughout the pavilion. Also, this pavilion was probably one of the only that was not air-conditioned.

There were so many unique and gorgeous designs for the pavilions. Too bad each one of them had a huge line! I would have loved to visit Switzerland, Germany, France, etc., but I didn't want to wait in the sun for 3+ hours. Seriously, the lines snaked in and around the pavilion and out towards the restrooms and walkways.

My uncle really wanted to visit Spain, which is pictured below. We were pretty lucky - we were told that the wait time was 2-3 hours but somehow the line went fast and we only waited about 1 hour.

One part of Spain's exhibit was this giant interactive baby. This was strange - there was no explanation at all. I must say it was quite an ugly baby - at least compared to my cute little cousins.

Then it was time for lunch! I found a really good place full of Shanghai style snacks. Basically you can pick up whatever food you want from several stations and then you pay at the end, cafeteria style.

My cousin and I both tried a Shanghai specialty, this steamed bun filled with hot soup inside. I also tried tea eggs! They were good, but one of the eggs was rotten inside.

Then we saw the USA pavilion! It was another popular destination for the tourists.

We did not go in but we did stop by this fun little exhibit on the outside.

It was scorching hot so we decided to take cover in one of the larger pavilions, the Central and South America Pavilion. These large pavilions are nice as there usually are no lines because of their enormous size. Then we went to the Africa Pavilion because we heard that it was not as crowded.

It seemed like everyone had the same idea! No matter where you go, you cannot escape the crowds at the Expo.

As it cooled off a bit in the late afternoon, we wandered around and saw the outsides of more pavilions, such as the UK Pavilion.

Also the Netherlands Pavilion.

Then we were tired and lazy, so we paid 10 Yuan each to ride this little sightseeing car around the Expo.

We were dropped off right at a gate next to the USA pavilion. I felt a little nostalgic as we left the Expo, both for the fun times I had during the past few days and for home in the United States.

Overall, the Expo was a great experience! We managed to avoid most of the lines and still see some very creative and unique displays. Still, it would have been nice to have time to slowly observe and enjoy each pavilion and exhibit. I guess that's also the larger story of China - mostly hustle and bustle, crowds and crowds of eager people, and never enough time.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Shanghai Nights

So after a tiring day at the Expo, we went out to a nice restaurant for dinner. This restaurant is unique in that when you order dishes off the menu, you pick out the fresh ingredients yourself. There were numerous types of produce on display for our choosing.

There was also plenty of fresh seafood. I find that most Chinese people scorn the idea of frozen seafood because there is always a large supply of live, freshly-caught seafood. If there isn't a river or ocean nearby, there are usually lakes to raise fish.

Then we went out to enjoy the beautiful Shanghai evening. We went to the riverside, which was lively and full of people relaxing and enjoying the view.

Across the river is where the old government buildings are located.

What would be a gorgeous night out by the river without some ice cream? Ice cream, especially western brands, is one of the more expensive goods here in China. For example, the Haagen-Dazs we went to might be considered a luxury brand.

There was riverside seating. Unlike the ice cream places in the states, there was also wait staff, real silverware, complimentary water with lemon slices, and a hefty price. One tiny scoop of ice cream cost 28 Yuan. While this might not be a ton when translated into dollars (it's around $4-5), consider that you can buy a cheap meal for under 10 Yuan.

Here we are, enjoying our expensive dessert happily. That's my nine-year-old cousin beside me, too busy enjoying her treat to pose.

What a view!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

World Expo, Part II

On Thursday we woke up bright and early to hit the Expo. It seemed like everyone else in Shanghai had the same idea! We decided to visit the private enterprises section. First we passed through the Asia Square again and saw some pavilions of smaller countries.

We rode the Expo bus to the other side. The private enterprises section had many pavilions of large companies, both foreign and Chinese. This area was as crowded as the countries section. For example, I wanted to visit Coca Cola's pavilion but the wait-time was over 3 hours.

Fortunately there were many other interesting places to visit. Wanda is a large Chinese company and in the above photo they are located to the left. Their pavilion is all about being environmentally friendly.

This one wall was made entirely of recycled cans.

We visited a really cool factory-built building. It was built in 24 hours and is earthquake safe, efficiently-built, and environmentally friendly. Here are some of its superlatives:

Then we went to the Urban Best Practices Area, which displayed different cities around the world and their innovations which make the more environmentally-friendly, healthy, and livable.

There was Seoul, Korea...

Bologna, Italy...

Izmir, Turkey...

Spain's Barcelona, and many others...

We also saw the Future Pavilion, which showcased new technologies and visions for our future.

Afterwards, we saw some more Urban Best Practices, including Pondicherry, India...

Alsace, France...

Madrid, Spain.

I wish we had more time to browse each pavilion slowly so I could really absorb all the information but since there were so many people, so many pavilions, and so little time, it was all rush rush rush - like a speed-tour of the world. Maybe if I had a month to explore to Expo, I would be able to really explore and understand each country's history, culture, and future.