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Expomania

Hey ho, finally got around to taking myself to the Expo yesterday! I couldn’t spend too long there, as I had to get home by 4 to collect M from kindergarten. But mainly my goal was to get over there, have a look around, get the lay of the land, etc so that I could plan a good day out with the family sometime in the near future. So although I didn’t go into many of the pavilions, it was a good opportunity to reconnoiter. Overall I’d say it’s not awful, it’s not fabulous, although there are things about it that are fabulous, and things about it that are awful.

I thought it would be nice to take the ferry there, since the Dongchang Lu Ferry Entrance Point is, like, a block from where I live. And it was sort of nice, in that the ride itself was nice. The not nice bit about it though is that where it dumps you off is in, like, the most boring bit of the whole Expo site, which is a bit of a drag. Unless you get really turned on by the idea of visiting the China Aviation Pavilion, which, fair enough, some people might. Not me though. So I had to go off in search of something more interesting. Fortunately there are a number of buses that cruise around the site, so I hopped on one of those to see where it would take me.

As it happened, it dropped me off somewhere near the “Footprint Pavilion”, which was all about the development of cities. I had actually wanted to see that, so I decided to join the queue (everything has a queue). Now… here’s the thing. First of all let me say, I do try to always bear in mind that I am a guest here, and that I have freely(ish) chosen to live in this country in which beliefs, customs and behavior may at times jar uncomfortably with my own. And of course stereotyping and generalistions are just that. So I’m somewhat reluctant to make sweeping statements containing ideas to the effect of “Chinese people are like this” or “Chinese people are like that”. But. The fact is, queuing in a crowd of Chinese people is not a pleasant experience. OK fair enough: queuing almost never is. But Chinese people have a very different concept of “personal space” than those of us from, well, not-China. So as we snake through the barriers, everyone is just completely pushed up right against everyone else and shimmying to get ahead an extra centimeter. On top of that, all of the other joyous public personal grooming sights one can witness here are on full display as well – the nosepicking, the spitting, the ear-cleaning. And also of course, the smoking and the spitting. It’s pretty full on.

At one point, there was a group of women behind/next to/around me and they were all talking about me, it was pretty entertaining. My Chinese language skills are far from brilliant, but I know enough that I could catch most of what they were saying. Mostly they were talking about my boobs (well, they are big, what can I tell ya), and about my ankle tattoo, and trying to figure out where I might be from, that sort of thing. But it was just really funny, listening to them speculate and hypothesize about everything abut me, thinking I couldn’t understand them. After a while, just for laughs, I just casually pulled my mobile phone out of my bag and called my ayi (housekeeper) and had a short but completely fluid conversation in Chinese with her, asking her if she was feeling OK (she’d been sick earlier in the week) and telling not to worry about picking up my husband’s clothes from the cleaner as I’d already done it the previous day, and letting her know what time I expected to be home. Man, those women had suddenly gone awfully quiet.

The Footprint Pavilion itself was OK but not what I expected, I thought it would be more about future urban planning but actually it turned out it was all about how cities evolved in different parts fo the world. Which isn’t awful or anything, but I kinda feel like, I already knew about that. There were exhibits on ancient Greece (a walk through model of part of the city if Troy), Rome, Egypt, some Assyrian statues etc etc.  I mean this is all good stuff and if you are your average Chinese person for whom this is your first and maybe only time to ever see this sort of thing it’s probably more impressive, but I was like “Yeah but, I’ve been to the British Museum like a hundred times.” As well as of course studied the history of Western Civilization in college. So between the queuing and the fact that a lot of it was stuff I in which already had a pretty good grounding, this pavilion maybe wasn’t the best use of my time. That said, everything in there was very well presented and well done, and I did enjoy it (the queuing part, not so much), especially this cool scroll thingie from the Qing Dynasty depicting scenes in the cit of Suzhou:

I could only get those two pics and then some guy came and yelled at me for taking photos of it. Oops.

After this I made my way across the river and had lunch in the Luxembourg Pavilion. Now given all the options, Luxembourg might seem an odd choice. How many times have you found yourself sitting there thinking “You know, I could really go for some good Luxembourgian food right about now”? But the thing was, I was hungry, and I wanted to eat someplace that I thought would be uncrowded and fairly quiet. So I thought – and I mean no disrespect to the good people of Luxembourg here – I thought, well, Luxembourg is a small place where not much happens and probably there won’t be many people there like there would be in, say, the restaurants in the Italy or Thailand Pavilions, so I’m going to Luxembourg. And I had a nice beer and some sausages and mash and it was lovely.

After that I just had a bit of a wander around the European Zone, jut getting a feel for where stuff is really. I’m drop dead tired right now so instead of going on and on about it, I’ll just get some photos up for now, sorry I don’t have the energy to explain what everything is just now, but I’ll be going again sometime and hopefully will be able to explain it all much better then!

One Response to “Expomania”

  • MWT says:

    Ah yes, the queueing. I got a taste of it while I was in Hong Kong for a week last year, and we were in a touristy place also frequented by mainlanders. Yeah, that was annoying. >.> It’s not like that in Taiwan or Hong Kong, or generally amongst Chinese people in the U.S. (as far as I know anyhow). And I hope it’s not like that in ALL of mainland China.

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