Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Shanghai Expo

Surprise, surprise, I couldn't access my blog in China. I had fun in Shanghai though and saw many interesting Chinese companies. For the first three days I was a guest at a conference where there were several other Europeans. "Don't bother going to the Expo!" they said. "The queue to get into the site takes 2 hours and then you have to queue for ages to enter each country pavilion." The only free time I had was at the weekend so I decided not to waste it queuing in the rain.

The following week I was presenting at a Morgan Stanley conference. Not only did they serve a chocolate pudding in the shape of the Chinese pavilion (as per the attached photo) at their gala dinner, but they also hosted a dinner in the Expo site one evening which meant that there was only a 10 minute queue to get in. We were told at 8pm that we had a choice: we could either go to the Chinese pavilion on the Morgan Stanley group reservation or we could wander around on our own and meet at 10pm for the bus back to the hotel. "How long will we have to queue for the Chinese pavilion?" I asked. "About 45 minutes," they said.

My colleague and I decided that it would be much more fun to look round some of the other pavilions so off we went. The Chinese pavilion is in the centre of the site with Europe to the left and Asia to the right and two hours is insufficient time to see both sides so we chose Asia and all the countries with no queue: Iran, North Korea, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Jordan, East Timor etc. It was most amusing to see North Korea's slogan "Paradise for the People." The differences in each country's presentations were fascinating. Morocco and Oman were my favourites. Morocco had built a typical Moroccan house in its pavilion with intricate wooden carvings, beautiful tiles, balconies and fountains. Oman has created a sandstone staircase to enter its site and had streams running through it and frankincense burning. East Timor, meanwhile, was in a relatively small space with a few statues and a video of military marches in the country.

When we returned to the meeting point at 10pm we asked the others how they'd liked the Chinese pavilion. "We had to queue for an hour and a quarter!" they complained, "And then we only stayed for 15 minutes as it was so boring!"


Blogger Eurodog said...

Welcome back, WW. Sounds like you had a good time.

10:15 am  
Blogger Ellee Seymour said...

Funnily enough a Chinese girl at my Toastmasters in Cambridge has just returned from Shanghai and said the Expo was not as good as previous years and that fewer people were going. She thought the reason was that they could learn about other companies from the internet and didn't need this kind of event any more.

2:13 pm  
Blogger Winchester whisperer said...

Thank you, ED - sorry I missed the moules et frites

I think there's some truth in that, Ellee. The whole thing cost $15bn and most of it will be dismantled in September. The Chinese pavilion will remain a permanent fixture though. Apparently a fake Chinese pavilion has been built in Anhui!

7:36 am  
Blogger Angus said...

And what did you think of the architecture of the British Pavillion ?

7:24 am  
Blogger Winchester whisperer said...

Hi Angus - I didn't see the British pavilion as it was right over the other side and I had no time to walk there!

7:41 am  

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