Saturday/ 2010 World Expo in Shanghai II

Alright .. more pictures.  The iron oxide -coated (rusted) exterior is of the Luxembourg pavilion.   Latvia takes one on a hot-air balloon tour of the country.  Then Russia, Algeria and South Africa – which had displays and arts and crafts inside such the baskets woven from telephone wire and the husse met lang ore*. The rest of the continent was housed under the Africa pavilion.  Then the UK pavilion, Poland and Spain, and a somewhat scary baby.   The cute fishes are on the Pacific Pavilion, the figure from the Solomon Islands.  Then Singapore, Malaysia and .. drum roll ! the giant red China pavilion (which had a really impossibly long line of people trying to get into it).   Finally, the Saudi Arabia pavilion and a building for Asia.   And a Find the Willem picture to end with.

*Husse met lang ore = Afrikaans for ‘curious’ things or creatures with ‘long ears’, used as a reply to someone, usually a child,  asking ‘what’s inside?’ or ‘what’s that?’

Soo .. you may ask : what about the United States of America pavilion?   Is there one?  Yes there is! – but I did not get to it because it was a little out of the way, and I knew what it looked like.  I will write about it tomorrow.

Saturday/ 2010 World Expo in Shanghai I

So .. what does one do in Shanghai if it’s 36 ºC  (97 ºF) and steamy outside and you wanted to go to the World Expo?  You go anyway.    There was a massive downpour with lightning during my visit as well ! We had to find cover for 40 mins and the public announcement said to stay away from tall structures and not to touch any metal.

So what is the Expo?  It’s a modern world’s fair – countries were invited to host a pavilion and put content inside which should illustrate the theme of the Expo : ‘Better Life/ Better City’ and sustainability.    The Expo is actually as much about that, as it is about putting Shanghai on the world map and attracting visitors from all over the world.

But I will let the pictures tell the story.

Top to bottom : The entrance to the Expo from the Shanghai Metro station .. very convenient since there is a stop across the street from my Marriott hotel.
Artwork in the ‘Expo Axis’, an elevated walkway,  a totem pole of animal heads.   (By the way: I treated the entire expo more as an outdoor and architectural exhibition.   Most pavilions had very long lines, and it seemed a better use of my time to walk around outside).

And how about this whimsical Picasso-like blob with legs?  Like it?  : )

Next two pics of the Taiwan pavilion, then Nepal and India.   The flying saucer is the Expo Cultural Center.    It will stick around after October (most other structures will be torn down) and has a concert arena, movie theaters and restaurants inside.

It provides a nice view of some of the pavilions.  The giant red upside down tapered one is the China pavilion.   The Korea pavilion (perforated 3D surface) is where the rain storm hit, and I huddled under a canvas umbrella there for a long time.

The rain stopped (sort of) and here are the Israel, Pakistan and Jordan pavilions.   The ‘Urbania’ pavilion was one of the themed pavilions, with colorful artwork outside.

This is a coconut milk stand outside the Phillippines pavilion, followed by Thailand, Australia and Portugal.  Then Bosnia & Herzegovina and the Republic of San Marino (‘the oldest and smallest republic in the world’ its tag line), Norway beautiful wooden structure, the Ukraine, Turkey and Iceland’s ice cube.   Sweden (also the picture with the red horse), Latvia, Germany (a very engineered construction – and we wouldn’t want it any other way) and the Netherlands.

Friday/ winter melon

Yesterday’s lunch .. pork and winter melon,  noodles and flat bread.

[Picture and text from Wikipedia] The winter melon, also called white gourd, ash gourd, or “fuzzy melon”, is a vine grown for its very large fruit, eaten as a vegetable  when mature.   It is the only member of the genus Benincasa. The fruit is fuzzy when young.  The immature melon has thick white flesh that is sweet when eaten.   By maturity, the fruit loses its hairs and develops a waxy  coating, giving rise to the name wax gourd, and providing a long shelf life.   The melon may grow as large as 80cm (30 in)  in length.   Although the fruit is referred to as a “melon,” the fully grown crop is not sweet.   Originally cultivated in Southeast Asia, the winter melon is now widely grown in East Asia and South Asia as well.

Thursday/ big 大 man人

Our newest American team member is 6’4 and therefore a big man | dà rén |大人,  as indicated by the label on his chair : ).   The head on the first Chinese character is bogus, but one can see why it is tempting to draw it on there.

I thought I would not be up to it – but I am – going back to Shanghai this weekend to see if I can get to the 2010 World Expo.   It’s a challenge to get into the big pavilions, those for China and the USA.   I hope I will at least be able to admire the weird and wonderful structures from outside.

Sad news from the Overseas China Town (OCT) theme park right next door to Dameisha : 6 people were killed and 10 injured in a terrible accident on Tuesday on one of the rides that malfunctioned due to an electrical short circuit.

Wednesday/ at work

The blue water bottle is new –  it’s summer and I need plenty of water.  The blue notebook is old – no electronic note taking in meetings for me, thank you.  Cannot type fast enough, cannot draw, cannot doodle on the computer.  The three symbols on the purple sticker says ‘Dameisha’, and the wireless mouse is about to get new batteries.   Hi ho hi ho it’s off to work we go!    Recognize it?  Scroll down ..

It’s from the song from Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.   Here’s more : ) .. it ain’t no trick/ to get rich quick/ if you dig dig dig/ with a shovel or a pick/ in a mine (in a mine)/ in a mine (in a mine)/ where a million diamonds shine/  we dig dig dig dig dig dig dig from early morn to night/ we dig dig dig dig dig dig dig up everything in sight/ we dig up diamonds by the score/ a thousand rubies/ sometimes more/ we don’t know what we dig them for/ we dig dig dig-ga dig dig ..

Tuesday night/ in Dameisha

I made it in .. my journey was off to a rough start with a bee-atch of a headache on the Seattle-San Francisco flight, but after I took some Advil that took care of it.   (I have a mini drugstore in my computer bag).   Then I lucked out and got upgraded to first class for the long flight to Hong Kong, and boy, did I use that seat to just lie back and snooze.  I needed it.

The border crossing into mainland China is always a little chaotic, and my colleague and I walked through separate from our driver, who used the vehicle crossing.   We lost him for 20 mins or so, but he found us.

The alphorn picture is from a Toblerone chocolate display stand at Hong Kong airport.   The alphorn has natural harmonics (unlike the vuvuzela!) and can actually produce melodious sounds in the hands of a alphornist.

Monday/ trip#6 for Mission Impossible

And here I am in the United Airways lounge at Seattle airport.  It’s the Seattle-San Francisco-Hong Kong route this time.    It’s always a scramble to get packed, get some work done, and just GET OUT OF THE HOUSE !  It helps if the Yellow Cab has shown up already.   Sometimes one needs a little pressure : ).

P.S.   Please know that the Mission Impossible reference for my project in China is tongue-in-cheek.   I wouldn’t be here if I thought we couldn’t do it !   If the project is building a house – and we have started building the house aka the  new system – we were looking at moving some rooms around on the ground floor yesterday.  (Not good).  But in the end we backed away from it.   The client is again happy with the rooms on the ground floor.

Sunday/ Seattle LGBT Pride Parade

This post is late! It’s Monday already, and I am at Seattle airport.   PriceWaterhouseCoopers sponsored a group to march in the Seattle Gay Pride Parade, and I felt compelled to take part.     And there I am, see? (second picture .. thanks for the pictures, Bryan).  Our green shirts said *be yourself which is a great message.   (Unless you’re an axe-murderer, right?).

Saturday/ in Seattle

Like the African soccer motif on my t-shirt I wore today?  I bought it in South Africa last December.  Turned out Africa was it with Ghana over the USA in the World Cup match this morning and going to the last 8.   As the coach said afterward : ‘We know we have to be better’.  Still, it was disappointing.

The Hammerhead Ale is very tasty – an American pale ale beer by McMenamins Pubs and Breweries, a brewery in Portland, Oregon .. had it at sunset with my friends close by.   Life is too short to drink Budweiser Light – right?

Friday/ Starbucks price comparison

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As I am sifting through my receipts from the last trip out to Asia, I found three different ones for Starbucks.  Since I always get the same beverage : a 12-oz soy vanilla latte, I thought it would be interesting to compare the prices :

China .. 30 Yuan, which equals US $ 4.41

Hong Kong .. 31 Hong Kong Dollar, which equals US $ 3.99

Korea.. 5,100 (!) Korean Won, which equals US $ 4.32

and then there is the USA, of course!  .. US $4.53

When I travel the coffee is a treat, but I have to say that nowadays I find the 4 bucks excessive (a psychological effect of the recession?), and have resorted to buying the little packets of ground Starbucks Via instant coffee instead for my caffeine fix.  That comes out to about $1 .. or $2 if one figures there are two shots of espresso in the latte. Much easier to swallow!

Thurday/ thimbleberries

It’s late but here is today’s post.  At lunch time my friends Bryan, Steve, Paul and I went walking along Lake Washington’s western shoreline (Lake Washington is in the metro area of Seattle, separating the cities of Seattle and Bellevue, and Redmond where the Microsoft campus is).   The picture shows a platform that is used for hanging out and jumping into the water in summer.

The thimbleberry picture comes from right there next to the lake; I never knew there was such a thing, and I ate one today.  The shrub is 2.5m tall and has no prickles – very nice for animals and humans foraging for berries – and it produces a tart edible composite fruit around a centimeter in diameter, which ripen to a bright red in mid to late summer. Like other raspberries it is not a true berry, but instead an aggregate fruit of numerous drupelets around a central core. The drupelets may be carefully removed separately from the core when picked, leaving a hollow fruit which bears a resemblance to a thimble, perhaps giving the plant its name.

Wednesday/ go U.S.A. !

What a game! – this morning’s World Cup Algeria-USA soccer match, of course.  (I have no shame : I stole the first picture of Landon Donovan from the Yahoo home page.  It so captures the joy of scoring that goal a in the 90th minute).  Never say it’s over – until it really is over.

ESPN briefly cut to the Atlantic Crossing Pub here in Seattle after the broadcast to show the fans.  The pub opened well before 7 am in the morning.  Yeah!  Seattle is arguably the USA’s most enthusiastic soccer city.  Our own soccer team is called the Seattle Sounders. (Sounders from Puget Sound*, not for making noise! Or maybe it’s a word play on both?).

*An estuarine system of interconnected marine waterways and basins separating the city of Seattle from the Pacific Ocean.

Tuesday

The layer of fogginess shown on the 6.17am TV newscast picture has actually fallen away and it is really nice and sunny, although not very warm.

The first soccer matches starts at 7 am here, and I saw South Africa doing very well with their win against France – but that was the end of both teams’ runs in this World Cup.

My Blackberry is sporting a background picture from Tsim Tsa Tsui subway station in Hong Kong.  That pesky red light shows that ANOTHER e-mail – or bunch of e-mails – had arrived while I was not looking.

Monday/ soccer and cereal from South Africa

My early morning ProNutro cereal as well as my soccer* come from South Africa.  The honey and banana are my favorite add-ins. Yum.

*The poor North Koreans are not in the same league as Portugal – and I see a steady sifting rain is coming down in Green Point stadium in Cape Town, much the same as it does in Seattle in winter time.

Between the soccer, the remaining jet lag and conference calls to China, I am not having much luck getting into a regular sleeping pattern here!  And on top of all that Wimbledon coverage on ESPN2 at 7.00 am in the morning starts today as well – and I see Federer is two sets down in his opening match against Alejandro Falla (Columbia). Uh-oh.

Sunday/ happy Father’s Day

1.  Happy Father’s Day to all the dads! (And especially to mine).   This guy from the Hong Kong subway certainly looks happy, that’s why I picked him for the post. (He is advertising a Canon printer).

2.  Cloudy and rainy again outside again today, but I don’t mind too much.  The air is crisp and not soggy with humidity the way it is in Daya Bay.  Check out the year’s weather chart for Seattle.  The dark blue shows we have now had an unusually long stretch of days without reaching 75 °F (24 °C) !  Rainfall is slightly above average so far.

Saturday/ flip-flapping

Here’s a cute little toy I brought back .. it’s a Flip-Flap, a mechanical potted plant with a solar-cell battery.  So when the light falls on the battery, the two leaves wave up and down.  I’m still trying to figure out how to make a compact video file, then I will upload that to show the motion.

Friday

I just ran downstairs to go see the national anthems played for the Slovenia- USA match.  Very touching, the camera panning over the faces of the players while the music plays.   I loved the US fans holding up the pics of Lincoln and Washington, and the two dressed up as Elvis.  Can’t get more American than that, right? LOL!

The weather is still cool in Seattle even though summer solstice is at hand.   This morning I have to run out to a sale at Nordstrom’s and see if I can pickup one or two more short sleeve shirts.

Two pictures from The Korea Times I picked up on the flight yesterday.  South Korean defender Cha Du-ri is a national darling, and parodied as part human, part robot.  Here is the link

http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2010/06/117_67760.html

And here is a cartoon of the oil spill – reaching the outer rings of Saturn.  Ouch.  It makes me flinch every time I read or hear about it.

Thursday/ home

Yes, it’s still Thursday in Seattle.   I’m posting two belated pictures from the Dragon Boat Festival taken from newspapers at Hong Jong airport, since I could not be there in person.  (Click on them to make them bigger). The first one is from a small bay on Lantau Island (site of Hong Kong airport).  The next one is from Longtan Park in Beijing. The ritual claims to pacify wandering ghosts and bring prosperity to residents.

The Asiana Airlines bird sitting on the tarmac brought us to Seoul; the next picture is again from a newspaper, showing the Incheon (Seoul) airport building’s current crescent shape; expansion plans are already in the works.  My flights went without incident or delays, and the food was top notch.  Next to me sat a 19 yo Korean student coming to Seattle.  She must have well-to-do parents, flying business class!

Thursday/ on the way home

Sometimes the nice thing about getting on a long international flight is that one is out of reach :  no Blackberry.  So no e-mail, no phone calls, no text messages.    Yes !  I’m flying back the way I came : Hong Kong to Seoul, Seoul to Seattle.

This article in yesterday’s newspaper says there was an ‘insignificant’ increase in radiation at the Daya Bay nuclear plant probably caused by an improperly sealed fuel rod in one of the reactors.  There are more than 41,000 fuel rods in the two pressurized water reactors.   The incident happened on May 23 (so I was not there at the time).   The reactor is only 50 km from Hong Kong and critics are saying that the incident should have been reported immediately.

Picture is from the Marriott Skycity Hotel, in the elevator lobby on the 8th floor.

Wednesday/ work one more day ..

.. and then right back to Hong Kong for my trip home on Thursday.    Did I have to come to work for one day?  Yes, a lot is happening and I have to hand over to some team members that arrived back on site.   It is summer, and the humidity is everywhere.  Someone left the men’s washroom door open here in the building and the mirror is full of condensate.   The marble floor is damp in places.

Just a few more pictures from yesterday –

Riding the tram is fun, but offers no getting out of the steamy heat.  My camera lens fogs up immediately when I take it out, but then it warms up and it is OK.  That’s Two IFC (International Finance Center) in the background with the tapered top.

This truck with the Liverpool soccer team on was in front of the Adidas store in Kowloon.  ‘You’ll never walk alone’ it says in green .. meaning – you’d always have some buds in the pub and something to talk about?    Inside the store they had only a few of the World Cup t-shirts in my size, so I didn’t buy any.   But check out this very political t-shirt they also sell :  Robben Island (with Cape Town in the background) where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned.  46664 was his prisoner number.