WoAi At The Expo (Part 1)

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The UK pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo

Ow, ow, ow! That’s what I say every time I try to walk. My feet are in a very delicate state after 12 hours of walking the 5 square kilometre Expo site on its first day of opening to the public. To add to that, it seems summer timed its arrival to coincide with the Expo opening, so not only did I sweat like a pig, but my arms are a nice shade of pink and are going to be quite sore for the next few days, I’m sure. So was it all worth it? Well, yes.

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The Portuguese pavilion

Quite a few people have questioned my sanity for deciding to go on the opening day. Sure, I could wait a few months for the excitement to die down, but surely opening day has its merits too. I mean, apart from anything else, I get to report back to all the blog readers and share my experience so that when you guys go, you’ll know what to expect.

And so without further ado, here’s my Expo opening day report:

I think the easiest way to get to the Expo site is to take the special Expo subway line (13) from Madang Lu / Xu Jia Hui Lu. The entire line only has 3 stops, so you can either get out at Lupu Bridge (Puxi side) or carry on to the main Expo site which of course is across the river in Pudong.

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There were no crowds when I arrived at the subway station at around 10am, so after a quick security check, I was on the subway line and a short few minutes later I was at the Expo site. The excitement was starting to build up as I took the escalator up to street level and headed straight for zone C where most of the European pavilions are located. I won’t hide the fact that top of my list of places to see was the UK pavilion and so I have to admit I sort of rushed passed a few of the other pavilions (Portugal, Czech Republic, Turkey, Sweden) and headed directly for the UK pavilion.

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I think it’s by far the most interesting and original pavilion but unfortunately, it seems most of the Chinese visitors shared my view and so the queue for this was the longest by far. The estimated queuing time was over 3 hours. THREE HOURS! So sadly, I did not get the chance to look inside on this first visit.

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180 minutes. Is that supposed to sound faster than 3 hours?

I did get to see the Spanish pavilion. The line was long but it moved quickly and after just 20 minutes I was inside.

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There are 3 main halls in the Spanish pavilion. The first looked like the inside of a cave and on the walls of the cave they projected movie clips in a sort of 360 degree format on both sides which was amazing. There was also a live dance performance which was integrated in to the video clips being shown.

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Live performance in the Spanish pavilion

In the next room were several large TV screens showing various aspects of Spanish life. One of the screens was vertical which was interesting because usually movie screens are horizontal. The clips being shown on the vertical screen were shot specifically in the vertical format. There was also one screen overhead which was very cool. At one stage, they showed a clip of a group of people looking down at the audience which gave the funny sensation that we were being watched. I almost felt like waving back up at the people in the video.

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Multi-media presentation in the Spanish pavilion

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The screen directly above showing people waving down at the audience

And in the final room, the centrepiece was a gigantic baby, and I mean HUGE! It was a little creepy because the baby wasn’t a happy smiley baby, in fact, he seemed a little troubled. I am not sure what this was supposed to represent but it was interesting nonetheless.

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In part two, I’ll show you – among other things – the most popular pavilion of the Expo which of course is the Chinese pavilion and I’ll share my vote for worst pavilion. Stay tuned!

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19 Responses to WoAi At The Expo (Part 1)

  1. anthony says:

    what you go through for us woai, thanks !
    nice pics ! :)

  2. Lena says:

    Great to get a first-person perspective on the opening day. Looking forward to finding out about the mysterious Chinese pavilion. All the documentaries have revealed nothing about what’s inside that one.

  3. CJ says:

    Thanks for the first-blush look. I don’t quite follow the screens in the Spanish pavilion, but I thought the dancer was terribly pretty.

    Could the baby had anything to do with the radish spirit?

  4. WoAi says:

    @Anthony – You’re welcome.

    @Lena – Stay tuned!

    @CJ – She was stunning. I didn’t realise till I got home and saw the photo. It was very dark in there. The flash only lights the image for a split second so in the photo it looks bright. I’ll get back to you on the baby. Not quite sure.

  5. Rich says:

    Should have got yourself one of those fancy umbrellas to keep the sun off you.

  6. EQ says:

    Wow, that Spanish girl is hot.

    How about the food? This was originally my #1 reason to make a visit as heard each pavillion has a nice restaurant serving local snacks…but if there are more dancers to be seen then even better (first stop will be Brazil).

  7. SHE in China says:

    Looks like u had a great Expo experience.. prob a lot better than mine! :) I went inside the Belgium pavilion, and that’s it (had to spend most of my time working at the Swedish one). It was a warm day though!! And it’s going to be a loooong Expo summer!

  8. Sue says:

    cant want for the next report! I soooo want to go!!!

  9. ana says:

    thank you for that photo of the portuguese pavillion – it’s the first i see, but i’m a bit disappointed… it looks like a big rusty boulder :( let me know what it’s like on the inside, if you get the chance to visit! :)

  10. Dingle says:

    Woai, I heard that you weren’t allowed to take tripods inside but it seems like you somehow managed to get yours in, is there some flexibility to the rule?

  11. WoAi says:

    @EQ – Not many pavilions had food. The Belgian pavilion sold waffles and ice cream but certainly there wasn’t any free food available. And yes, the Spanish girl was hot!

    SHE in China – Are you there the whole 6 months? I’ll definitely come see you next time then. The line was just crazy on the first day.

    @Sue – So come!

    @ana – Didn’t go inside but I will on my next visit and I’ll let you know.

    @Dingle – Tripods are allowed it seems. I saw loads of people with them. But I just took a Gorillapod.

  12. Sue Anne says:

    Wonderful wok here. I’ve never asked what you shoot with. I’m going to wait until the euphoria dies down (if at all), but the heat looks like such a killer! I hear one of the best times to go is the early evening when everthing is lit up. I plan to bring my tripod for that, otherwise,it’d be impossible to get a steady shot.

  13. WoAi says:

    @Sue Anne – These shots were all taken with my Canon 5D (original, not mk II) and 17-40mm f/4 L lens which on a full frame sensor is very wide and perfect for taking the pavilions without having to stand miles away.

    I had a 70-200mm f/4 but it’s almost pointless taking that.

    The Spanish dancer was lit with the Canon Speedlite 580EX II which is quite big but essential for a well lit subject.

    There will be night shots in part two of this post coming soon, but DEFINITELY bring a tripod. You can get the night ticket for much less and I strongly believe the crowds will die down very soon.

  14. Great shots! I was lucky enough to go for a preview last weekend, so although most of the stuff was closed, there were far fewer people (and I still got frites at the Belgian pavilion). I have to agree that the UK pavilion is one of the best ones, although I didn’t get to go inside. The Netherlands one across the way is pretty distracting, though! I got to go into the Finland one which was amazing. Better at night, I think!

    I’m going again on Thursday for a trial dinner at one of the pavilions, so I get to have another look. Can’t wait!

  15. T says:

    by the way – anyone planning to go, now is the time! only 70k people there today, 80k yesterday. it was EMPTY!

  16. WoAi says:

    @T – Yes it does look like the record breaking forecasts were a bit optimistic.

    @Banana – How was your second visit? Did you see anything this time?

  17. I was lucky enough to be invited to a VIP dinner at one of the pavilions (New Zealand – guess where I’m from!), which involved a lot of seafood, beef, lamb, and free flow wine (canapes and 4 courses, amazing).

    They’d also booked us in to see the Chinese pavilion, which is huge and expensive looking, but ultimately doesn’t leave you knowing much more. There’s also a part which is about as cool as a slightly-less tacky ride through the Bund tourist tunnel, and the end part is all about being clean and green (like China). Impressive, though!

    I finished off the evening (as we were just there for the few hours) with NZ Natural ice cream and a personalised tour through the NZ pavilion. Good times.

  18. Elaine says:

    the UK’s looks fluffy…
    maybe the baby is just annoyed because so many people around..ha ha ha …
    I think my one-day trip to Shanghai is not long enough to see too much. looks like so much fun out there.

  19. Alex says:

    seen again and again, but most of Shanghai Expo pavilions are still amazing, especially UK pavilion

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