September 18 - Shanghai
Our hotel was within walking distance to the World Expo. We were very surprised at how few people there were when we walked in. And then we got to the China pavilion. There were lots and lots of people, even for China. So many in fact, that you had to get reservations to see the more popular pavilions, China, of course, being the main one. I read somewhere that only a small fraction of all the World Expo visitors would be able to see the China pavilion.
The reservations were handed out each day when the gates opened at 9am until they are all gone. We didn't arrive until the afternoon. Thank goodness for scalpers. These people, I assume, get in line way early and get reservation tickets and then sell them. Oh well. We didn't fly across the globe to miss the China pavilion.
We waited in line that are very similar to livestock rows. We waited for about an hour and then we got to the part where you REALLY wait in line. We waited for at least 2.5 - 3 hours. Looking back at the 4 times I went to the World Expo, this was actually a decent amount of time to wait. The Italy pavilion wait was 2 hours, which was about average for the popular ones. There were some that were 3 - 4 hours like Indonesia and the UK. Germany pavilion wait was 5 hours. Saudi Arabia took the cake at 8 hours, and that was just from the time I got out of line fighting my way back out through people who were still getting in line to wait.
The China pavilion was nice, but greatly disappointing considering their competition and the hype. My favorite parts were the wall-length projection of an animation of the oldest known town in China, which was replicated and is now a tourist attraction we would visit later, and the water fixtures that were programmer to spell and draw with careful timing.
I wrote a bit about the other pavilions we saw the first 3 times. I also went a 4th time on my own and saw a few more, Russia being the highlight. I'll post some highlights soon.
September 18 - Hengdian
Hengdian is a city 3.5 hours drive from Shanghai. It has a few touristy places to visit. The first we saw was the "scroll city". It's a replica of the town described in an old scroll the one that had the animated projection on the wall at the World Expo) and is known as the oldest town in China. It gives you an idea or heat it was like to live back then.
The second place we visited was the best. It's a to-scale replica of Emperor Qin's palace and is used as a movie studio, the world's largest in fact. Jet Li's Hero was shot here as well as The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. There's nothing terribly spectacular about it other than the shear undertaking of building an exact replica of the palace, but for me it was cool just because I was on a movie set. We visited another palace that was a replica of another dynasty's palace too.
Back in Shanghai. We spent the evening shopping at Yuyuan garden. It's a very old garden, over 400 years, and is now a hot spot for shopping of all kinds. There are all kinds of specialty stores including one that sells nothing but combs, and another that sells nothing but chopsticks.
After shopping, we went to the nearby Bund. Why it's called the Bund, I don't know. It's the area around the river where you can see the Shanghai skyline. We took a river cruise at night. Shanghai at night on the river is like Christmas lights. There are many many ships that are lit like cruise ships in the river. They loudly pass by the ships who are actually working and have absolutely no lights and are like ghosts in the river.