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Shanghai World Expo 2010 – Photo Essay

Shanghai 2010 World Expo

Shanghai 2010 World Expo

On my 2010 trip to China I ended up in Shanghai after a night train from Beijing; and since this was in 2010, the Shanghai World Expo was on.

And World Expo is one of those things I haven’t quite ever figured out, so naturally I was curious.

They have this huge area where all the countries come in and build a building for themselves and then they fill it with things they want to showcase about their country.

And then people pay to come in to see the buildings and the stuff in the buildings. Which actually is quite like all the national houses in London during the Olympics.

They were expecting about 70 million people to visit. That’s over dozen times the population of Finland; and a lot more than the population of UK.

That to me seemed like a very ambitious target, so I figured I really should do my part. The expo only ran about six months, so that’s almost half a million people every day. Alright, alright, it’s more like 400.000, but half a million just sounds better, ok.

London Olympics had about 8 million tickets sold, so basically the World Expo is like the Olympics that lasted six months.

Half a million visitors every day?

Where do you get so many people?

These were the questions on my mind as I got to the Shanghai world expo area and was greeted by sight of empty yard. This didn’t seem right. Was it open today?

It seemed too quiet outside the expo area

It seemed too quiet outside the expo area

Apparently it was, but I was still looking around a bit suspiciously even after I had got my ticket. Was this whole thing a flop? There was nobody here. Maybe the half a million visitors’ thing hadn’t worked out at all. Maybe nobody was coming.

It wasn’t until I got thru the gates, I realized that no, the half a million people a day seemed to be working alright. Apparently everyone just got here early, really really early; which started to make sense to me after I had a look at the map and started walking around.

The Chinese pavilion - which was sort of upside down pyramid

The Chinese pavilion – which was sort of upside down pyramid

South Korea had gone for stairs, cubes and rectangles

South Korea had gone for stairs, cubes and rectangles

Sweden's pavillion does remind me a little of Ikea

Sweden’s pavillion does remind me a little of Ikea

The Swiss Pavilion

The Swiss Pavilion

The Polish pavilion, sort of a cube

The Polish pavilion, sort of a cube

Iceland's umm well, ice cube

Iceland’s umm well, ice cube

The place was huge.

There were five main themed pavilions, then there were the country pavilions and top of that there were some corporate pavilions; and if you wanted to get into any of them, well then you would be queuing for hours. Some of them actually even required a separate ticket, which you couldn’t buy on site.

The inside of one of the more corporate pavilions

The inside of one of the more corporate pavilions

 

Queue outside the Spanish pavilion

Queue outside the Spanish pavilion

 

Back entrance to the Saudi Arabia's pavilion, that's why it seems empty

Back entrance to the Saudi Arabia’s pavilion, that’s why it seems empty

Girl playing in front of the Austrian Pavilion

Girl playing in front of the Austrian Pavilion

And I wasn’t quite in the mood for queuing for hours to get in somewhere.

So, I just contented myself with walking around checking out the buildings themselves, and they were funky indeed.

However my online research into the expo had revealed one very handy fact, which was that my Finnair boarding pass would get me access to the VIP line of the Finnish pavilion. Now it wouldn’t had been my first choice for a pavilion, but as they say, you don’t look a VIP horse into the mouth.

And at least this was Finnair doing something for me, as they did loose my luggage on the way to Beijing.

The Finnish pavilion was called Kirnu, a giant’s kettle; and not surprisingly it was actually shaped like a giant kettle. And it wasn’t just the outside; there actually was an empty space at the middle.

The Finnish pavilion, Kiuru, or the big kettle

The Finnish pavilion, Kiuru, or the big kettle

The kettle was surrounded by water which is important for Finnish

The kettle was surrounded by water which is important for Finnish

Inside the big kettle

Inside the big kettle

I actually quite liked the building, but I am not quite sure I agree with all the things they wanted to showcase about Finland.

The air guitar, really?

I don’t think we can create a massive export out of air guitars; those things are quite cheap to design and build anywhere. I suppose today, it would be full of Angry Birds.

After I got out, something more familiar caught my eye.

It couldn’t be.

Could it?

A Porter House!

Porter House, good beer

Porter House, good beer

Which is one of my favourite pubs in London, and they also have pubs in Dublin and New York; and apparently in Shanghai for the Expo. It was such a welcome sight and taste after all the Chinese beer I had been drinking on my trip up until then.

Now this kind of foreign stuff I could appreciate.

So it was with a pint of beer brewed in Dublin I contemplated what I had seen that day. A lot of weird and interesting buildings, but which I don’t think are very useful as such.

But I’m glad they’ve done it. The world needs more crazy and funky buildings in my opinion. I also later learned that the expo actually still made a decent profit after it had cost almost 2 billion US dollars. That’s what you can do when you get 70 million visitors.

But what I had learned, is I quite like looking at funky buildings; and I’d be quite happy to visit another World Expo to see some more of those.

Dutch Pavilion was pretty cool

Dutch Pavilion was pretty cool

 

And offered shade from the sun

And offered shade from the sun

The UK pavilion was called "Seed Cathedral" and actually won the title of Best Pavilion at the Expo

The UK pavilion was called “Seed Cathedral” and actually won the title of Best Pavilion at the Expo

 

Turkey's red pavilion at the back

Turkey’s red pavilion at the back

 

The Russian Pavilion

The Russian Pavilion

Luxembourg Pavilion

Luxembourg Pavilion

 

Have you ever visited a World Expo? Would you want to?

4 Comments

  1. Jarmo, these are great photos! I was in Shanghai in 2011 and I really enjoyed the city. This might sound strange but I was expecting it to be more hectic and I was pleasantly surprised by some of the city charms in different areas.
    Samuel @ Backpacking Travel Blog recently posted..Insadong: Seoul’s Traditional NeighbourhoodMy Profile

    • Thanks Samuel, yeah I really enjoyed Shanghai, such a vibrant city. And yes, it can be surprisingly relaxed in some parts also

  2. I have seen photos from my friends and these photos really remind me I need to pay a visit back to Shanghai again!! Beautiful photos. I bet SH changed a lot nowadays.
    EDGYMIX-TRAVEL FOR FASHION recently posted..Obsession-Extreme SportsMy Profile

    • Thanks :) Shanghai is quite beautiful and most definitely worth a visit!

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