Thursday, July 15, 2010

Amazing Asia * Shanghai World Expo and Hong Kong (July 2010)

Attending my first world expo, the experience was quite interesting.  Not sure if it was positive or negative though, but definitely interesting.

It was a hot and humid day in Shanghai.  The train ride to the Expo Gates wasn't too bad.  But as we arrived, it was not a straightforward route to the expo.  We had to stop and ask around, though happy to see that there are a lot of English speaking guides along the way.  The queue to the expo train was not bad at all.  The lines practically flowed smoothly up to the expo gates.

As we enter, we realize that the Expo grounds was really huge, my sore feet badly needed a good massage at the end of the day.  It didn't help that the weather was not comfortable either.

First stop, Asia.  We saw the Philippine Pavilion right away as we enter the grounds.  Since there was a line, we decided to visit later in the day and go to the other pavilions first.  We entered New Zealand.  Then we also saw the external of the nearby pavilions all in their own shape and size, e.g. Australia, Malaysia, India, Pakistan, Thailand.

Then off to Japan, passed by China, Saudi Arabia, Korea.  To our dismay, the queue for Japan was 5 hours, so we decided not to go in.  We would rather go around and see the other pavilions, even just from the outside. We passed by Kazhakstan, Jordan, etc.  We decided to have lunch first.

Next stop, Europe, which was on the far end of the expo grounds.  As we walk through the grounds, we contributed to the economy but buying some original certified expo souvenirs, as compared to the ones sold outside.

Finally arrived in Europe, queues were equally long.  We went in Czech Republic, and I saw familiar sights of Prague, such as one of the famous statues of the Karlov (Charles Bridge) with the bronze dog which people touch for good luck.  Then off we went to see other pavilions from the outside such as Germany, Denmark, Finland, Portugal, Slovak, etc.  We then went in to France and saw famous brands such as Michelin and Louis Vuitton and Dior.

Last stop, section D, for the Coke pavilion.  Again, 3 hour queue!

What a day! 3 pavilions, that's all we saw!  It just reminds us that the world is enormous, and it is impossible to see them all in a day, LOL.

I've been to Shanghai several times, so I've seen most of the attractions, this time it was really more to shop and eat at our favorite places. We went to Yu Yuan Garden for the famous Xiao Long Bao, and shopped at the Fake Market in Nanjing Xi Lu.  We ate Sze Chuan food, Element Fresh for Western Food, Hot Pot King for a great hot pot dinner with amazing selection of sauces, eat all you can Japanese buffet.

It was an experience to queue at the Xiao Long Bao place, this is the only place I've been where you'd have to stand beside a table with people still eating their food, just to get a chance to sit and eat.  In fact, you don't save a table, you save a chair, so you'll see people trying to ignore you and trying to steal the seat that you're waiting for.  It's amazing how these locals still act this way in such a progressive country.  Elsewhere, you still see people spitting on the ground in front of you, people pushing and bumping into you without saying sorry or excuse me, people shouting during a normal conversation, people cutting in queues, people sleeping on the floor in public, people driving like crazy and ignoring red lights, not sure what pedestrian lanes are for, etc.  I realized that however much things progressed in the environment, it is very hard to change old habits.  Doesn't matter if this is one of the most progressive and modern cities.  Unfortunately, as much as I admire the deep and very vast culture of China, my heritage, and the enormous progress it has undergone, this is not one of the places that I would want to live in.