Monday, April 25, 2016

Around the World in a Single Day! Okay, two days....

September 8-9: This post will mostly be just about the pictures because I really don't have many stories to tell about my visit to the "Milan Expo," or as I usually called it, the World's Fair. I woke up early to get in line before it even opened for the day--the better to get ahead of the crowds that would likely be there. The motto for the event was "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life," so you'll find a lot of references to food, sustainability, and so forth. I looked up some statistics about the expo to dazzle you with:

It opened on May 1, 2015 and ran through October 31, 2015. It covered 200 hectares (490 acres), and had 22,200,000 visitors during that time. Some 145 countries participated in the expo, along with "17 companies" and "21 businesses."

There were three different entrances to the expo. The entrance I arrived at was actually a good ten minute walk away from this entrance, but it passed above and around this entrance on a pedestrian-only footbridge giving me this 'birds-eye' view of this other entrance just as the gates were opening for the morning. What a crowd! I had already passed through security and was "technically" in the expo already from where I took this photo. I have no doubt the other two entrances were just as packed with people. (But I would have been near the front of the pack at my entrance due to my early arrival.)

There are a few different types of expos. This was a "universal expo," sometimes called a "registered" or "major" exhibition--which is one of the "big ones." They happen every five years, and participants generally build their own pavilions and therefore are the most extravagant and expensive expos. If you're interested, the next one of these will be in Dubai in 2020.

There's also the "international/specialized expo", sometimes called a "recognized" or "minor" exhibition--which fall between the universal expos, and organizers must build the pavilions for the participating countries free of rent, charges, taxes and expenses. They are also defined limits to how large these events can be--limits that apply to each pavilion as well as the entire event. If you're interested in that, the next one of these will be in Kazakhstan in 2017.

And then there are "auxiliary expositions" such a the horticultural expositions in which participants present gardens and garden pavilions. The next one of these will be held in Turkey and you can mark your calendars for... TWO DAYS AGO! Yes, that's right!!! The horticultural exposition in Antalya, Turkey, is happening RIGHT NOW! You have until October 30th if you want to go. =)

I wasn't going to settle on a "minor" expo or "auxiliary" expo, though. Nope, I wanted the real deal, and Milan, Italy 2015 is where I ended up. =)

Pavilion Zero was kind of an introduction to the motto of the event: "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life" rather than for a specific country. I really liked this wall, though. It looked a lot what I'd imagine a library in a Harry Potter story would look like. =)

So anyhow.... I took the subway to the expo, arriving about a half hour before the gates were expected to open which put me squared near the front of the line. Throughout the day, I spent most of my time waiting in various lines to get into the various country's pavilions. It's like being at Disneyland on a busy day where most of your time is spent simply standing in lines. And the rides aren't even as fun, but only because there were no rides.

They did sell "passports" for five euros or something (I forget the exact price now, and I didn't think to write it down), which you could get stamped at each country's pavilion. Stamps?! How could I say no?! So I charged through the place looking to get my passport stamped in as many countries as I could. Sometimes I went to pavilions only because they had a short line (or none at all--Zimbabwe, I love you, even if nobody else did!) and knew I could get in and get their stamp quickly. =)

I ended up going to the expo for two days. The first day, I stayed pretty much from opening until closing. I'd already purchased a two-day ticket and decided to go first thing in the morning the second day to hit a few of the most popular pavilions when the lines were still short after giving up on them later in the day after their lines became ridiculously long. I did that, then left after lines started getting longer and there really wasn't anything left I wanted to see anyhow. I'm merging all of my photos from both days into this one post, though.

And the rest of my adventures.... I'll share as photos and videos. =)

The roof area of Pavilion Zero.
Brazil was a popular pavilion because it had this net for people to walk around and jump on. =)

Good morning, Vietnam!!!!!

The expo was largely arranged along one massively long corridor with the pavilions on both sides. The flags of each country's pavilion hung along the side of the corridor helping to identify their locations. (This photo was taken pretty early in the morning and it's not actually all that crowded. YET!)

China pavilion

Food float! (In keeping with the event's motto.)

The Poland pavilion. (I know you wanted to see these, Karolina!)
You can't see it well in this photo, but at the top of the staircase is "welcome" in three different languages. All of the pavilions tended to have text in three different languages. 1) Italian, because we were in Italy. 2) English, because that's the international language that people who didn't know Italian were most likely to know. And 3) The local language of whatever pavilion you were in. (In this case, Polish.) Of course, if the pavilion was Italy or an English-speaking country, they didn't need this third option since options 1 and 2 covered it already. =)

A train set made entirely of chocolate! (Also in the Polish pavilion.)

My favorite part of the Polish pavilion was this live entertainment! =)

I don't remember which pavilion I took this photo (not Poland), but this was the "2060 cookbook" which a display describes as "The In Vitro Meat Cookbook provides a peek into the future. It was recipes containing 'in-vitro' (grown) meat. Wonderful illustrations show how laboratory-grown mean will look on your plate."

But it seemed very tongue-in-cheek. For instance, this is the "throat tickler". The text is hard to read, I know, so I'll quote the text here: "Wet, slippery, and wriggling, this curious 'creature' lives on the border between a sea anemone and a sex toy. The Throat Tickler beckons from your plate with come-hither motions, and slides its tentacles around your lips as you slurp it down.." Whaaattt?

It continues: "Because Throat Ticklers have no organs or nervous systems, they're not truly alive. Rather, their enticing movement is caused by sodium altering the voltage differentials across cell membranes, triggering the muscle tissue to contract. A pinch of salt will incite a sensual wave of the Throat Ticker's tentacles, as will any salty sauce. Never before has a tickle in your throat been such a hedonistic experience."


Another page of the cookbook, this one a recipe for the "In Virtro Aquarium."

"A must-have for corner offices and seafood restaurants, the In Vitro Aquarium combines the soothing qualities of a fish tank with easy access to sushi-grade meat. A glass-paneled bioreactor filled with a growth serum provides te habitat for dozens of strikingly colored in vitro 'species'. Electrical pulses force the cultured muscle tissue to contract, causing these semi-living creatures to swim gracefully through the tank.

"These 'species' aren't just lovely in a liquid medium, but make animated additions to teppanyaki grills outfitted with an electrical current. The lab-grown creatures skitter and slither across the electrified surface, cooking as they scoot along. Competitive diners may place bets on whose food will be the fastest."

I have to admit.... I kind of wanted a copy of this book! It's hilarious! =)


Inside France!

Of course, I had to get my "tampon" in France! =) I can't go to France without getting "tampons"! =)
I bought some food in France. I thought France was famous for good food? This looks kind of.... Well, it tasted all right, at least. =)

Mexico bar-coded all of their visitors.

But when I scanned it at a machine and it took a photo of it, I could download it from the Internet later. Woo-who! A photo of me in Mexico! =)

I think this was the Coke pavilion, where you could try different Coke products from around the world. (I never went in since it had a long line and I'd already done something like at in Atlanta years ago.)

Tree of Life was one of the centerpieces of the event. The fountains would dance to music and, at night, lots of colored lights would flash around the tree.

One of the daytime Tree of Life shows. (At least a short part of the show--I didn't record the whole thing.)

The US pavilion was kind of boring, really. I expected more from us! But the girl who stamped my passport turned out to be from Seattle so we chatted about Seattle for several minutes. My home... which I hadn't been to in over six months now!

The US pavilion did have this "vertical farm" on one side of the building which I think is a very interesting concept. It also had a section with a wood floor that was salvaged from the Coney Island boardwalk after Hurricane Sandy damaged it in 2012.

The view from the top of the US pavilion was among the best of the whole expo.

Looking down into that long corridor from the top of the US pavilion.

This "water curtain" was my favorite thing at the pavilion, though. (The words are backwards since it's meant to be viewed from the other side, but the light was bad and my camera couldn't get a good video of the effect from that side.)

The Turkey pavilion.

OMG--McDonalds had their own pavilion?! When did they become a country?!!!
The Russian pavilion was particularly large because it invaded the Ukrainian pavilion and annexed it. (Okay, bad joke, bad joke....)

But seriously, who wants to wait in line for a half hour to see RUSSIAN DIRT?!!!! WTF?! =) Oh, Russia, you could do so much better than that....

This was set up next to the McDonalds pavilion. (Okay, it wasn't, but it would have been awesome if it were. *nodding*)

Inside the Turkmenistan pavilion.

Japan pavilion

The Monaco pavilion was built out of shipping containers--which I rather liked! Kind of a strange construction medium, but it made the pavilion look like a giant lego toy!

Monaco included this jellyfish aquarium inside.

Or watch the jellyfish video I took! =)

I don't remember which pavilion I took this video, but I think I had moved on to something else after Monaco.
Croc and zebra burgers! Sign me UP! I've never had a zebra burger before! =) Well, I'd never had a croc burger before either, but I had tasted crocodile--just not in a burger.
Oooh.... I can go to Iran too? Well, that should be interesting! =)

Actually, it wasn't particularly interesting. But now I can tell people I've been to "Iran." ;o)

I also went to Cuba because hey, how often can an American say that?! Alas, there were no North Korean pavilions for me to visit, so I had to limit myself to South Korea.

The Ecuador pavilion had a beautiful exterior. Inside was so not worth the wait, however, and I'm not even going to show pictures because it was so lame!

An electronic bartender?!

A nighttime showing of the Tree of Life performance.

The next day, I hit the expo early again to get in a few more pavilions....

If I learned one thing about the Netherlands pavilion, it's that the Netherlands is one screwy country! =)
Switzerland, perhaps, had the most conceptually interesting pavilion. It consisted of several "silos," each one stored with a different resource: apples, salt, coffee, water and... I think there was a fifth one, but if there was, I've forgotten it. Anyhow, they stocked each silo with samples that visitors can take, and visitors can take as much or as little as they wanted, but when the silo ran out of food, that was it. It would never be restocked during the entire six months of the expo. It was to "simulate" the limited nature of earth's resources. These boxes contain packets of coffee.
This woman is explaining how the silo with apples is now empty. The floor to the silos move, so as the silo empties, the floors go lower and lower. The top floor had emptied in just 16 days. The next floor was empty after 30 days. The one after that in 36 days. There weren't any apples for us to take so presumably the bottom floor was empty too, but they hadn't updated the number of days for it to empty because it still has just a big ? in that space. (She also only spoke in Italian so I couldn't understand a word that she said. I could only read the English parts of the board.)

No apples, but plenty of salt still available!

I grabbed a cube of it, not really having any idea what I'd use it for. What do I need with a small box of salt? But it was free for the taking! I felt I had to do my part to waste Earth's resources. =)

The water silo, also, had run out of water....

The German pavilion had, in my opinion, the coolest technology that we could play with. While we were in line to get in, they'd ask us what language we spoke, and they gave us a piece of cardboard folded in half. I opened it to see.... nothing! It was blank! Except for a few small, faint dots around the edge of it.

They showed a video explaining how to use this blank piece of cardboard (in English, Italian and German). You hold it under a projector, which can detect it (and which language you speak, which is printed on the cardboard) and display images and videos on it--like this one. The projector will even follow the cardboard around if you move it in circles or something. And it's possible to "interact" with the image. By tilting it to the right, you turn to the "next" image/video. By tilting it to the left, you return to the "previous" image/video. It was immensely fascinating! One projector could handle up to three different cardboard pages simultaneously.

But maybe a video makes how it work more clear....

United Kingdom pavilion had a particularly odd look to it!

Directly underneath that strange lattice-like thing of the United Kingdom pavilion. (You can see people walking on the level inside of it.)

Malaysia pavilion (obviously)

If I remember correctly, I took this strange photo in the South Korean pavilion.

And that's all I've got to share about the World's Fair. I'm glad I went--once. =) If there was ever another one in Seattle or somewhere I was already planning to visit, I might drop in on them again, but I wouldn't make a point of flying halfway around the world just for one!


Mary said...

Thank you so much for sharing the photos! I loved Switzerland and Germany pavilions! It seemed very interesting.

Karolina said...

Where is a picture of your Expo passport with all the stamps??

Ryan said...

I never actually took a photo of the Expo passport.... But it's better seen in person in any case. I could take a photo, but then you only see one page of it! =)

-- Ryan