Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Around the World (x 144)

The Shanghai 2010 World Expo was a grand, surrealistic, Michel Gondry-esque spectacle. It was fun and exhausting in approximately equal measure. Never before have I felt so much like a mummy dancing with a robot on the top of a giant turntable. Also, a fair number of the exhibits were made entirely of felt.

Despite having spent two days there last week, I still have no idea what the Expo actually is or what it’s about. All I have are my unreliable memories, some blurry photos from my digital camera, and tons of tattoos about my wife’s grisly murder. We’re going to stick with the pictures and see where they take us.

Let’s get the most important stuff out of the way first. Meet my new best friend:

Badass in sunglass(es)

Quick quiz: what is she holding on her lap?

  • a) a sack of Russet potatoes
  • b) foldable clubs, for wheelchair golf
  • c) ATTITUDE
  • d) a child of unclear gender with a bag over its head

The answer is D. I would have asked her for more info but she is way cooler than I am and I find that intimidating.

I took that picture at the China Pavilion, the outside of which looks like a cross between a “Mulan on Ice” set and a Lex Luthor lair:

CHINA

It’s full of mini-pavilions. Hey look, my favorite Chinese province!

Tibet

I also visited the African pavilions, which for most nations meant a display booth inside a communal African warehouse. (South Africa had their own thing going on, but that’s to be expected because they have vuvuzelas and white people.) The African country with the best branding was Ugandaland,

Ugandaland

which I did not know was a country. Not only do they have mountain gorilla, but they also have a real African you can take pictures with.

Ugandan man

Worst branding award goes to Senegal.

Senegal

I know Ugandaland has some spacing problems but at least their display doesn’t look like it was designed by a toddler with an incomplete set of refrigerator magnets. You have one of the most developed economies in West Africa. Get some superglue and a ruler.

Sick lion head, though.

The AFRICA warehouse also had a food court called Hakuna Matata, which in African means “no worries and surprisingly affordable ostrich wraps for the rest of your days,” which is a problem-free philosophy we can all get behind.

Hakuna Matata

HM 2010!

In other news, this prize from the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Expo says “HOMO.”

Medal

I know “homo” means “man” in Latin, just like I know that the German pavilion probably isn’t supposed to look like a light-up Jawa Sandcrawler.

Deutschecrawler

Just like I know that when the Turkish pavilion promises “magic” (or in Chinese, “limitless splendor”), they mean, like, 2 informational text messages.

Bluetooth

Just like I know that Dragon 18-style is a form of mountain tea art, even though it sounds like an uncomfortable and confusing sexual position. (Though Mengding is clearly a sex act of some kind. I mean, right?)

Sichuan

Just like I know that the 江阴 convenience store is about to see some pretty exciting changes.

New tea

Lots of new lessons. I’m like a boy who just became a man over here.