fivemack (fivemack) wrote,

First views from an exhibition

Shanghai starts out much less alien than Xi'an, or even Beijing: there are buildings not of brutalist concrete, the streets are no more than three lanes in each direction and, a greater miracle, the traffic drives in only three lanes along them. There's a very competent metro: thirteen lines as I type.

And so I took this metro to the Expo.

Imagine a county show or state fair, but exhibiting a country and featuring pavilions from a planet. The fairground is about 3000 acres in the city centre, including three ferry ports, two very substantial bridges across the Huangpe, and many kilometres of multi-lane highway. And this space is dotted with a couple of hundred pavilions; one of the midsized pavilions is a repurposed dry dock of the China State Shipbuilding Company, and there are a dozen or so that size and several much larger.

I've walked round the site for nine hours today and might have seen 10% of it. The Vietnamese pavilion, a temple framed inside and out in bamboo, is probably the best bit of architecture; the exhibition of carpets in the Iranian pavilion the most brain-bending - they had some utterly sublime velvet carpets from Qom, but also a couple of renditions, carefully done, priced at a couple of thousand pounds and labelled as the result of a year's labour, which depicted two badly-drawn ugly kittens playing with balls of poorly-rendered string. I can only hope that these are the work of CNC looms sold as handicraft.

I've got two more day tickets to the Expo: will need to turn up early one morning to get one of the closely-rationed tickets to the China pavilion, though if that fails there is a secondary market - this is China, of course there's a secondary market - and they'll be thirty quid from a tout. Tomorrow I will recharge by looking at non-Expo parts of Shanghai, and trying to buy a 16G memory card for my camera and a couple of nice wall-scrolls for my living room.

Supper was at Old Uncle's Fast Food, which regrettably doesn't seem to have made it outside China: regrettably for two reasons. First, any fast-food place where all orders come by default with a bowl of steamed broccoli should definitely be encouraged, and secondly because they make perfect, glistening, wobbly creme caramel. OK, it's chicken flavoured and served as a starter, but such things can be fixed to Western appetites.
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