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Shanghai during World Expo 2010 – insights and views from Bernard Weber

We are the world, we are the children...
We are the world, we are the children...

The Expo 2010 in Shanghai is definitely another good effort to bring the world together. Yet I must note that the Expo pavilions are not all of the same standard — some are really smartly designed and are therefore intriguing, but many are basic and mostly cater to a rapid flow of masses of people. Mostly, they feature some kind of multimedia presentation that simply can’t give more than a first impression to its visitors. The few that are really worth visiting, though, are like museums with a huge array of interesting objects on display.

How much information and insight can a Chinese person ingest in a mere 10 minutes, after having stood in line for 2 to 5 hours outside, sweating in extremely hot humidity? That is a question I had — yet, for the Chinese Expo visitors, this experience is like traveling without leaving home and they seemed to love it. More than 500,000 people (mostly Chinese only, hardly any foreign visitors) go through the numerous gates every day. A pavilion sees an average of 15-30,000 people every day.

People in motion...
People in motion...

I used this final day to visit the city of Shanghai. What struck me during my first ride, arriving from the airport into the city via the magnetic, high-speed train, was the greenery in the middle of very hectic, central Shanghai. Lots of plantain trees so familiar to me from small cities in, for example, the South of France (like Aix, Avignon or Montpellier) create a complete umbrella protecting the roads and pedestrians from the sun.

Shanghai, a city that changes dramatically when night sets in! It takes the whole concept of a city skyline to another level.

Posing with Haibao, the mascot of the Shanghai Expo 2010. The word means "treasure of the sea".
Posing with Haibao, the mascot of the Shanghai Expo 2010. The word means "treasure of the sea".

Along the Huangpu river that runs through central Shanghai, you have, on its western side a huuuge modern promenade with thousands of, if not close to a million people celebrating and taking photos. The Bund, as it is called with its art deco and classic imperial colonial-style monuments, represent the past century. Across the river, the spectacular skyscraper skyline stands for the 21st century and the future. All this together becomes what must be one of the biggest light shows in the world. Not only did the Chinese invent fireworks, they are taking city lighting to a whole new level.

Entire skyscrapers become film and advertising columns just as in good old Europe, we have the poster advertising columns in the cities. Every single skyscraper in Shanghai has a unique and special rooftop or other special feature illuminated at night. The highways are lit up by a “warm” blue light and make traveling on the multilayer highways feel like a trip into a science fiction movie.

 Shanghai at night in the blue light of economic expansion
Shanghai at night in the blue light of economic expansion

It impressed me that the people, when you have some personal contact with them, are all extremely courteous and very respectful — although I felt that, when they have to run for something, things become a bit rough and rather harsh amongst themselves and you get to feel that as well.

In conclusion, Shanghai is definitely worth a trip, probably better once the Expo is over in October and certainly better when the climatic conditions are more pleasant outside.

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