To begin with, I don’t think I need to introduce World Expo to anyone, really. China put a significant amount of money & effort into this, and is very serious about letting the world know their place. I have no doubt China already achieved that, first with Olympics 2008, and now World Expo. It was certainly an impressive display of fancy buildings from all over the world, showing off different aspects of their country covering culture, history, food, sports etc etc.
To begin with, there were certainly buildings that I thought were pretty different. For example, this is Taiwan pavilion, which a lot of people thought looked like a toilet seat:
What about Japan with a building that changes colour depending on its mood of the day!
What about India, which to me looked like a giant pudding!
Our original plan involved multiple day visits to the expo to really have a good look at all the pavilions on offer. But upon the first visit, it was clear, there is no way we will be able to see much at all. First, as you can see below, this is the queue I was in:
It was clear that all the pavilions I wanted to visit namely Japan, Korea and even Hong Kong involved waits of up to 3 hours each just to get in! On my first day’s visit, I waited a full 2.5 hours in the line to get into Korean pavilion:
When I eventually got in, the whole experience was about half an hour worth, involving digital interactions with Korean food, showcasing of their involvement in World Expo in 2012, some ramblings about their focus on technology, and finally a short Korean drama, all of which typifies what Korea is all about.
It was a great display, but was 2.5 hours wait worth just half an hour of interaction? I would say NOOOO….!!
What puts me off even further, was that the really popular ones like China and Taiwan needed advanced booking early in the morning on the day. People line up starting at 5am to make sure they get pre-bookings for these! There is no way I would wake up that early, to line up for 4 hours, just to see these! I was happy just to take a photo in front of the building and move on:
Fortunately it’s not ALL bad. Eventually I discovered some ‘peace and quiet’ at the other end of town, namely Europe, Americas zone, and the smaller Asian nations, where I managed to cover USA, Brazil, Portugal, Philippines, Brunei, Thailand, and even a country I’ve never heard of, like “Herzgovina”, with maximum wait time of about half an hour. Don’t expect too much from the smaller ones though. It’s literally a building with some pictures in it. Here’s Georgia pavilion, where there was barely anyone walking in it:
There are worthy ones, for example Brazil who displayed their love of soccer very well.
And of course there is USA which looked like propaganda to me, talking about protecting the environment, and sustainability. I also quite enjoyed Philippines where they had a DJ and plenty of guitars:
And don’t forget Australia pavilion, where I thought they did very well, talking about multiculturalism and the environment.
Overall, I probably only covered less than 5% of the whole exhibition. There is no doubt, a lot of visitors especially foreigners were put off by the long queues. It’s even reported on the news just about every day with plenty of annoyed visitors! I had spent more time pushing and shoving in long queues, than actually visiting pavilions.
Hence, I say they should just call this expo “Queue Expo”