Thursday, October 28, 2010

Expo 2010 Shanghai, China

We had an opportunity to spend a day at the World Expo in Shanghai


It is on a large site with pavillions on both sides of the Huongpo River . We thought that we had left our hotel in plenty of time. There are numerous entrances to the Expo site but our group had decided to take one of the Water Gates.


While we arrived at 9am there were already 100's of people ahead of us. We were told that tourists can arrange for scheduled times to visit the China pavillion and our assigned time was 10:30am. Security is very thorough at all of the entrances. There are chain link fences to herd the crowd and before you can enter the terminal you have to proceed through security like you would find at an airport. NO photos are allowed during this process where you have to put bags and purses through scanners and you are patted down for contriband items. There is an extensive list of items not allowed which includes NO bottled beverages.

After you are security cleared you enter the cruise ship terminal to await the next ship which will cruise down the Huongpo on its way to the actual Expo site which takes around 45 minutes.


These are large 3 level ships with a beautiful spiral staircase to the second level. As you float down the river you get to see the waterfront for which Shanghai is famous


By the time we arrive at the dock and make our way to the China Pavillion it is obvious that we will not be able to get in due to the massive crowds. We take our place at the end of the line but it is futile as it is now past our appointed time and we were told that we had at least a 3 hour wait.

(China pavillion, Expo 2010 Shanghai)

Not wishing to waste our time in line-ups we took the free internal transit system and found our way to the East side of the site


The weather started out overcast and cloudy with spitting rain

(Saudi Arabia, I think, to resemble sand dunes)

As you are not allowed to bring in outside bottle water, there are many water stations on site where you can refill your water bottles


I don't know what this was but it looked neat


We are now walking with purpose and trying to find the Canadian pavillion


We were told that if we flash our Canadian passports then we will be allowed to "skip" the line and just go on inside

We finally find our way there and it was a pleasure to speak to the Canadian Rep who was from Vancouver and spoke perfect English without a Chinese accent. She radioed ahead to her associate to let us through . If felt like we had arrived home

We stop to admire some familiar colours


Inside the Canada pavillion


we are treated to a simple audio visual display


it was very dark inside and you cannot stop to take a photo because of the crowds behind who do not expect you to be stopping


Once inside I managed to find a place along the side and bump up the ISO a bit


To tell you the truth I was a little disappointed at the Canadian content. I thought that Expo was to promote your Country by showing photos to entice you to visit and spend your hard earned money . What a lot of money we have spent to build this single purpose building to be abandoned after Expo closes.

I also don't understand the slide show and why we have panorama photos posted of a cemetery, or why we have a photo taken inside the Ontario Produce Market . I think we blew it. There should have been a stunning photo taken from each province. There was none from Newfoundland, or Nova Scotia. None from the Rocky Mountains or the expanse of the prairies showing the vastness of our great land. What a waste of our Canadian taxpayer's money by also showing animated cartoons instead of the Beauty of British Columbia. I just don't understand who made these decisions

After our continuous diet of Chinese fare over the past couple of weeks, it was refreshing to settle down to a $5.00 plate of French Fries


As we did not have enough time to see everything, we only visited pavillions with short or non-existant line-ups

(Pavillion of the Americas)

(Costa Rica)




We found the United States Pavillion but by now we were tired from walking


and were tired of line-ups, and we were hungry. We were thinking that if they let us in with our Canadian passports then we would try to get in but we didn't try

We went looking for food instead


we found the Chinese equivalent of McDonalds with Chinese fast food. It was cheap, hot and good. Food is prepared in bowls which stack and they have combos


I had the curry beef with rice, brocolli and custard. Not bad for under $50. yuan /RMB , which is less than $8.00 for both meals

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Nearly back to normal, home is best

After months of anticipation of travelling to an exotic place and seeing a different culture with my Western eyes, we are glad to be back to familiarity. How I appreciate more the pleasant family Sundays where we go out to savour an american type brunch


The Main Street corridor is becoming very upscale, sort of like a budding Robson Street back in the 70's. The area is flourishing with many eateries like this one which is decorated as if you were transported back to the 60's


with their chrome chairs and arbourite table tops, stuff that we couldn't wait to get rid of, back then as were starting out our lives as young adults.

Even the light fixtures are reminiscent of the times


even the floors have been given the retro treatment


I nearly missed the porthole windows to the kitchen


Lucy's is not a very large restaurant


but it is open 24 hours a day. Perhaps one night we will stop by again for a hamburger and milkshake (for only $10.)


nearly forgot to post my obligatory food photo of my meat loaf dinner with mashed potatoes


and before we left we had to use the facilities, nothing unusual here, just your standard North American type restroom


but such a welcome sight after being in China for the past couple of weeks where fixtures such as this are a luxury, if you can find one at all. Unlike in China where you have to bring your own toilet paper or dinner napkins, this one comes fully stocked with the usual washroom condiments

At the Shanghai World Expo 2010 you are confronted with this sign as you enter the toilet area


Hope you don't have to use the right side. You are lucky to be able to choose between a Western or Chinese type Squat toilet. Luckily I only need to do a No 1

Washrooms, or toilets as they call them are not segregated on the Expo site but the sinks are communal which we discovered is the way you usually find them. On segregated toilets where there is a separate entrance for male or female, the sinks are outside in the middle. I found it strange to be sharing sinks with other strangers of the opposite gender


outside of normal tourist areas you will only find this


if you have good muscles perhaps you can make it back to your hotel


At the more modern hotels or restaurants you may be lucky and find a place where you have a choice


sometimes the sight of something familiar is more relieving than the actual action


I am so thankful to come back to familiarity and now notice things which we take for granted are not neccessarily the norm in other places around the world, like having FREE toilet paper where you expect to find it


During our last day in Shanghai we wandered around to areas where I am sure they don't want prying tourists' eyes. One of these places was in an area known as Shanghai Historic District. Here we have the poor going about their business of living with their meager incomes. We were told that the average wage here was around 2,000 Yuan/RMB per month (approx Cdn$320.) Because labour is cheap we noticed lots of people are hired to clean the streets, stand guard in front of stores and call out to tourists to come inside to buy something. Except for the smallest stores it is the norm to have someone stationed in the washrooms to clean the floors and water splashes on the counters, and even hand you a towel when you wash your hands. In the lobby of all of the hotels we stayed there was always someone standing on the stairs, or in front to open the door for you, or to sweep the floors, pick up trash, or clean the windows. I think the uneducated have a hard life and work long hours in menial jobs.

When I first started walking in this area I started to take photos but I got a lot of stares and some people came up to me, some shouting, but I couldn't understand their language. It was obvious to me that I was the intruder and was having second doubts about recording their lives. Many families live in this area with narrow streets and laneways which led to numerous tenaments, many of which did not have running water. You will notice sinks in the street, people walking around in pajamas, people trying to make ends meet by selling their wares.

You will have to excuse the following video as I had to go into stealth mode and make it appear that I was just walking about with my camera but obviously not taking any photos as my fingers were no where near the shutter button, nor could I obviously look at the LCD screen to frame my compositions. I had no choice but to keep normal walking speeds as I turned back and forth as I walked down the block.

It was in this area where I was unfortunately "bumped" and lost a leather pouch with some high speed memory cards when I eventually noticed that my waist pouch was unzipped. Luckily I did not lose any images as I download them each night onto two separate external hard drives. It is one of the consequences of being an easily recognized tourist in an area where people whom don't belong are easily spotted.

Hope you enjoy my video, "shot from the hip"

(note: there is 2 wheeled content in the video)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Beijing / Shanghai : Transportation options

All over China there is new prosperity. Everywhere we went we could see buildings under construction. The rich are getting richer. I noticed cars like you would see in North America; Audi, VW, Buick, Toyota, RangeRover, Cayenne and many models of SUV's. At the lower end of the scale you have the poor struggling to survive. They work long hours doing menial jobs. Owning a car is just a dream as they trudge their way to work on their bicycles or electric scooters

(downtown Shanghai)

While we treat Scooters (and motorcyles) as recreational toys they are only considered as transportation .



It is just a vehicle for getting around, to go shopping or to commute to work while we go for a ride to clear our senses and to enjoy the smells of nature and freedom.


Electric/Gas scooters and bicycles have their own dedicated lanes separated from the rest of vehicular traffic but that is not to say that they cannot share the road with cars either. From my observations, scooter lanes are not directional. Even on one-way streets, scooters can travel in any direction and ignore all traffic signals.


You are allowed to carry anything on a scooter, even live chickens . This neighbourhood metal fabrication shop uses a tricyle for delivery

(pedal powered metal delivery tricycle)

you can also deliver noodles with your bicycle


With these larger gas powered tricycles you can also display your produce for sale


In the background you see these men scrounging the restaurant waste for food to take home on their tricycle


KFC: Kentucky Fried Chicken has a large presence here in China with outlets everywhere. Even they have a fleet of bicycle delivery vehicles


I noticed many of these motorcyle tricyles, some are used as taxis, while others are used for family transportation


It is not unusual to see them riding on sidewalks. They honk for pedestrians to get out of their way. It seems that scooters have the right of way everywhere


here is a more enclosed motorcyle trike, most are used as taxis


I only saw one of these . . .

(Motorcyle trike with metal 4 door body, with motorcyle handlebars)

There were not many actual motorcyles

(looks like a Honda Nighhawk)

the following looks like an 80's era Suzuki GS series. I did not notice any motorcyles over 125cc


(another 125cc something or other)


If I had to make an educated guess based upon what I noticed, I would say that electric scooters outnumber gas powered 4-stroke 4 out of 5. The land is relatively flat and most travel is within the city. There was not a 2-stroke scooter to be seen. All the smog is created by the manufacturing sector and the thousands of diesel powered trucks and tour buses.

All of these 125cc Chinese Motorcycles appear to have

tachometers as standard equipment

No one wears any protective gear except it is compulsory for motorcycle riders


The Police ride the largest bikes.

(Yamaha 250cc Police bike)


(Honda 250cc Police bike)

(Shanghai Police in action)