Expo 2010 Shanghai Review

Day 1

Everybody's favourite country to ridicule is North Korea, so I thought: why not head directly from the Expo entrance to the DPR Korea pavillion. DPR by the way, stands for Democratic People's Republic, which proves an old theory of mine, that the more "People" or "Democratic" or "Republic" are found in a country's name, the less democratic it is.

At the very outside corner of the 5 square km Expo area we finally find the pavillion:

At the right hand side we see the entrance with some weird angels flying towards a temple over which a pale rainbow shines. This probably refers to Kim Jong-il's birth which was heralded by a rainbow over mount Baektu (and foretold by a swallow, not to mention).

Next to temple is small bridge which invites people to take photos of themselves in front of the pictoresque Pyongyang skyline. It kind of reminds me of the background picture of the North Korean state news program...you know, the one with the angry anchor lady they sometimes show in our news program when North Korea's been humiliated by another nation.

Paradise for people!!!

Doesn't look too bad, does it ? And I didn't even show you the minute long recording I made of the TV program in the lower part, which seems to be the Grand Mass Gymnastics and Artistic Performance "Arirang". My favourite part is when about 2000 female soldiers start to perform a surprisingly sexy synchronous dance routine.

All in all this pavillion was one big WTF fest and it made me wonder what other nice things were yet to come.


So I walked over to the adjacent Iran pavillion, which means I must have walked exactly along the axis of evil (probably some inside joke of the organizing committee). At the entrance there is a greeting message in three languages:

By whom exactly ?

A little bit further inside there is room with an array of Iran's latest technology breakthroughs. The pictures above show some (obvously heavily used) incubators ...I suppose.

But I have to cut them some slack as the pavillion is by far not one of the worst and also contains some interesting things like e.g. this ski lift and of course:

The Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant, a masterpiece of islamic engineering and under construction since 1975. Interestingly this was the only exhibit that was not fully translated into english.

Next I did a couple of "-stans", among them such delights as Tadjikistan, Kyrgistan and Uzbekistan. These central asian exhibits can be best summarized by the picture above which shows the proud Tadjik president Emomalii Rahmon in front of a hydroelectric power plant.

I wanted to visit Kazakhstan but for some mysterious reason there was a long queue in front of the exhibition hall, so heavy heartedly I decided against it. I continued my stroll towards the european section which is about 2 km further west. I thereby passed a couple of the more sophisticated pavillions like Japan, Korea or India which all had ridiculously long waiting lines. When I finally arrived in Europe the situation was even worse. The total number of people on the streets and in front of the pavillions was substantially higher than before so I just took a few pictures of the buildings from outside.

The African section is located behind the European one and the first pavillion I saw was the Libyan one, a square box with the charm of a scientific poster exhibition. The inside was not much better and contained mainly a few more poster presentations of projects named after Revolutionary Leader Gaddafi.

Only after it gets dark a lot of the pavillions show their full potential. Many of the buildings have colorful moving and changing lights which makes looking at them a second time at night quite a pleasure for the eye.


Day 2

On the second Expo day I first checked out the South East Asia Area, where I started with the big, quite nice Indonesian Pavillion which was an easy walk-through. Afterwards I went for the Philippines.

I wonder what exactly the message was here, as there were only a few music instruments hanging around, and a massage parlour in one corner. It looked as if they were not giving away free massages so I left.

I actually waited in line a few minutes to see the Malay Pavillion, and it was every minute worth the wait, as I know now that Malaysian rubber products are the best in the world for condoms and pleasure dams, whatever the hell that is.

The Thai Pavillion had way too many people standing in line for me to enter, which made me suspect they were giving away free massages using pleasure dams.

Next I went to Eastern Europe. The last dictatorship of Europe, Belarus wanted to score with a friendly image and had its whole exterior and interior painted with naive drawings. The Ukraine's main attraction was a Shashlik Restaurant and a folklore band with two fake blondes posing for photoshootings and kissing eager Chinese men from both sides. Georgia advertised their wine and a few caves. And Turkey built a whole museum depicting their history, which actually was mostly greek history. But don't tell them.

Hungary was quite interesting. From the whole ceiling oversized-matches were hanging and moving up and down, with a colorful light on the lower end. In the middle of the room was an uneven metal sphere. I didn't even pay attention to it because I thought it was crap, but then a Hungarian volunteer introduced me to the story of the Gömböc: Years of hard work and collaboration between the brightest Hungarian matematicians finally led to the development of a geometrical structure, the Gömböc, which can be placed in any position from where it always returns back into its upright (shown) state. Following their breaktrough and nights of partying the scientists suddenly realized that there's actually no application for it...Never mind, it  symbolizes Yin and Yang and therefore fits into the Chinese expo.

The Swiss pavillion, waiting time 3 hours. Swiss citizenship, 0 hours. I was actually pitying the Chinese who waited so long only to ride the chair lift up into a green teletubby land with installed loudspeakers on the ground that made cowbell noises. I would have freaked out if suddenly a periscope speaker or psychedelic windmill came out of the ground, but it didn't. But ok, it was fun and gave me a beautiful view of the expo site from above.

Hollands Hello Kitty is called Miffy. I don't know, but I think there's just something inherently funny about this name.

The Luxemburg pavillion, it's huge compared to the size of this minuscule European country. I think this proves to my theory that the size of any given country's expo pavillion corresponds to the per capita GDP times the number of banks in that country. Luxembourg even had money to waste on a permanent "art" performance where futuristic doctors projected moving hearts onto the white coats put over unassuming visitors. The poor elderly lady on the left actually believed she was undergoing a real heart exam and afterwards inquired about her health status.

The Iraqi pavilion was really sweet and focused all around Aladdin. I was also informed that the real estate marked is currently experiencing some problems and a lot of construction is going on.

Myanmar Legend Fail: No this isn't the bad resolution of my camera, I have an 18 MP EOS 550D. This is the actual 2 square meter printout of the map of Myanmar. One wonders about the IT skills in this country. No wonder John Rambo was awfully pissed and shooting around all crazy in the Burmese jungle.

It was getting late again so the second Expo day was concluded with realizing that the whole site is just much too big to see everything. At least I could probably visit around 50% of the unpopular pavillions. If I had another week and fake passports of various other nations I could probably reach 80% of all the expo sites. But I didn't, so we'll never know.