On the bright side, got to see the Chinese Pavilion at the Expo! Woot! It "only" took 3 hours in the "tour guided line"... as opposed to the estimated wait time of non-tour line - next to never. :P
Backtracking... Got up at 6:00. After breakfast and an hour's drive by taxi, arrived at the meeting place with the "tour" by 8:30. Wrangled through the admin stuff and got driven to the expo by 10:00. Waited through line to actually get in by 10:30.
Took one look at the 5 hour wait time of the Japan Pavilion and decided 'no way'. Visited a few other minor pavilions like Vietnam, Laos, Nepal, etc. It was sprinkling slightly on the last one again, but the rain managed to hold itself off. Then, we went to the mini-pavilions of the Chinese Provinces. Only managed to make it through less than half of 'em, though I think we got some of the better ones (not counting Beijing and Shanghai which had separate lines with estimated wait times of 3 hrs). The Shaanxi exhibit especially was very pretty, with very pretty songs and dances too. The Yunnan exhibit also had pretty girls and dancing, and when they did the 'sprinkling of blessed water' on nearby audience, I managed to get some of that water on me. Whoo! Blessed! XD
We skipped lunch and had an early dinner at 3-4ish. The kiddies insisted on lamb kabobs at a Turkish restaurant. Afterwards I bought a tray of half-dozen yakitori takoyaki from a Japanese stand. There goes my cholesterol intake for the year. >.>
Finally, at 5:30, met up with the tour guide again to get us into the Chinese Pavilion. Feet were already aching, but managed to tough it though three hours of standing in line until we could finally got in. For most of that wait, my uncle actually had a fine time talking to a woman right behind us in line, who was apparently a journalist from a legal journal (newspaper?) who'd been to the Expo many times for various official and unofficial reasons. I didn't listen in on most of their conversation since I was busy trying to keep the twins entertained, but after the fact, my uncle said he was very impressed with her. Apparently, she was part of a committee responsible for figuring out how the legal system was going to work for China's budding market economy. He said that she was actually more knowledgeable about economic theory/practice, and even the US economic system, than most economic "professionals" in the USA (and he says this having a pretty wide-read economics background himself). I think he was also pretty impressed/surprised by some of her strong opinions on how China is doing and where it's going in relation to the rest of the world. I just got the impression that she was pretty proud of where the nation has been able to get to, and was pretty optimistic about the future.
Anyways, once actually into the China pavilion, I took a bunch of pics, which again will have to wait to be posted until I get back on the other side of the Great Firewall (unless I find another good free media hosting). Some of it had to be run extensively through Photoshop first though, since the dark room plus animated screen did not work well at all with the camera's auto-flash and auto-focus settings. Oh well.
Speaking of pictures, I at least figured out what was triggering the grey boxes on my photos. It seems that whenever I turn off the power on the camera, the last photo shot would get those greay boxes. So I guess the temporary solution is to take an extra shot before turning off the power. After I get back to the US, I can get Canon support (which is for some reason also being blocked by the firewall) to fix this or whatever.
We took the subway metro on our way back to the hotel (ow my more achy feet), and now I'm more than ready to conk out.
We're probably returning to the expo tomorrow. But we're going to be using individual tickets instead of group tickets. Also - not going to try and kill ourselves meeting deadlines and stuff. We moved the scheduled trip to the Shanghai museum to the last day since the museum closes early, so we can get an early bedtime in order to catch the flight to Xi'an early morning after.
Edit from 10/16 - while indexing the images, also realized that I lost all the pics of the Yunnan and Guilin mini pavilions. Those were between the Tibet mini pavilion and the main China pavilion. What happened there? *glares at camera*