Day 5 - Expo, Bday
Last day in Shanghai! We went back to the Expo, this time at a much more leisurely pace.
We took a cab to a west bank entrance at around 11-ish, since the busiest entrance times are in the early morning, and the west bank pavilions (the corporate pavilions) are generally less popular than the east bank ones (the country pavilions).
First we went to the Xi'an case pavilion, which was supposedly a scaled down replica of 大明宫. Hopefully we'll be able to see the real thing next week in Xi'an, assuming they've actually opened it for tourism in early Oct like they were planned to. We ended up waiting outside for quite a bit of time for what turned out to be only a 6 minute movie of some of the sights in Xi'an (some of which we'd be visiting).
After that we decided to take some pics at the Chengdu case pavilion because it was just so darn pretty. The kids wanted to go to the Pavilion of the Future, but my aunt kinda nixed that; or maybe she just didn't hear them. Again, skipped lunch. I'm beginning to notice a trend here...
Afternoon - we pretty much spent the entire time at the Pavilion of Footprints. That's the place where they imported all the really old pieces of history from various museums across the world. There was a piece of the Gate of Ishtar from ancient Babylon (donated from...Iran?), various pieces from Sumer, Greece, Egypt, etc... and of course there's stuff from China itself. There were also a lot of very cool animated stuff/movies/mobiles/etc which unfortunately didn't translate all that well onto photos. I liked the one that was a full room (360 degrees plus two pillars in the room) movie showing historic sights of celebrations through-out the ages (Ancient Egypt, Mayans, Ancient Rome, England, Times Square). Hopefully my aunt got some of that one on film. There was another one of the development of Chinese society done entirely with animated paper-cuttings. That was cute, but unfortunate it was moving too fast to get good photos of, and I don't think my aunt noticed that one.
After the footprints pavilion, we were originally planning on taking the ferry across the river to see the European pavilions. While in line, we saw the amusing side of lines of five PLA/military security acting as the cordon between each group (about a boat's worth of people) in the line. Then, whenever a boat docked and the next group boarded, each line of soldiers would march forward and move the rest of the groups in line forward. Hey, why worry about moving around rope cordons when you can get guys in uniform to do it instead? And this way, the 'cordon' can even watch out for people trying to cut in line! XD
Halfway through the wait in line, though, we decided we were way too tired to make it to the east bank and look at the European pavilions. Oh well. So instead we just grabbed a dinner at a local noodle place and started on our way home.
Of course, as we were on our way to the exit, we ran smack into a parade that was coming down the road. The floats were generally space/robot-themed, so I guess the twins got to see their 'pavilion of the future' after a fashion, after all.
We took one of the special Expo cabs back to the hotel. Due to these cabs actually having to follow the law that other cabs can somewhat ignore, we had to split up into two cabs to avoid too many people per car. The driver I had was particularly chatty, and I had a particularly interesting conversation with him. Apparently, all of these Expo cab drivers are pulled from the five major cab companies in Shanghai. They're chosen based on their experience and record (no accidents, complaints, etc.) so that these are pretty much the best veteran cab drivers available. Thus, they know all the shortcuts and alleyways to get around the jams on the major streets of Shanghai (a situation exacerbated due to today being a weekend and the expo). These drivers themselves get shortchanged, since as an official Expo driver, they can't pick their own customers, and they are forced to drive through the most congested parts of the city to pick up their customers. My driver had started working at 3 and only had 3 customers before me since then (this was at around 8). He's hoping they'll get some extra compensation from their companies after the Expo is over, but doesn't think it's too likely. However, when I asked if he resents the Expo and hopes that it's over, he was rather adamant that the Expo is a great thing for the country and it's a matter of national pride for him to make some small sacrifices in the interim for the good of the country. Food for thought there from the minds/mouths of the average modern Chinese citizen.
Finally, we got back to our hotel, and I got one last surprise on entering my room to find a birthday cake there. At first I was suspicious that my aunt had ordered it from room service. But on interrogating my uncle and the kids (who really suck at keeping any secrets), I determined that it really wasn't her. Also, the fact that the card was addressed to my full legal name makes me think that it might have been the hotel itself that sent it, based on information obtained from my passport. Ah well.
Least I could do is fill out the hotel questionnaire and give 'em high scores, right? The first section of the questionnaire made me break down laughing though. It asks me to rate the following Reception categories on a scale: Doorman, Bellman, Receptionist, Cashier, Telephone Operator, ......and Toilet. *snicker* I'm assuming they meant the thing in the bathroom and not some person performing the function...ok I didn't need that mental image.
Anyway, I have to get up at an ungodly hour of the morning tomorrow for the flight to Xi'an. I guess the cake will make for our breakfast since we'll be gone before the cafeteria opens. :P
Bai bai, Shanghai, you never cease to amaze me. ^^;
Belated edit to add: I'm now curious about what was in the movie at the Cisco pavilion. Colleagues who'd gone told me it wasn't worth seeing. But the lines for that pavilion was over 4 hours, being put into same category as the Japan and Saudi lines. There's gotta be a reason it was so popular.