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We had to skip breakfast at the hotel to get an early start, so we immediately started looking for somewhere to eat. Many of the restaurants don't open for breakfast, but we found a Cantonese restaurant called Bi Feng Tang. Although it was a Cantonese restaurant, we ordered a basket of Shanghai-style "Steamed Juicy Pork Dumplings with Crab Roe." They were delicious, but very rich. We also ordered Yangzhou Fried Rice, and I got a big bowl of Beef Noodle Soup. Everything was yummy.

We decided to walk around Zone A in a giant circle, ending back up at the China Pavilion in time for our reservation. The UAE (United Arab Emirates) Pavilion wasn't wheelchair accessible, so we had to skip it.

LEBANON PAVILION
Our first stop was the Lebanon Pavilion. At the entrance is a replica of the Phoenician inscribed Ahiram Sarcophagus. Phoenician writing is widely considered to be the origin of Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. Inside the pavilion is a multimedia depiction of the famous Jeita Grotto, which is one of 28 finalists for the New 7 Wonders of Nature. There were also displays featuring various Lebanese crafts and food.

IRAN PAVILION
Next we visited the Iran Pavilion. I figure my chances of being able to visit Iran anytime soon are very slim, so I decided to check out their pavilion. This pavilion was beautiful, both inside and out. The main focus here was on Persian culture. The lower level featured many exhibits including a nice selection of traditional Persian musical instruments. The upper level contained a market with a large selection of Persian rugs. As we were leaving, we were approached by one of the pavilion workers (from Iran) who asked us where we were from. He got very happy when we said we were from the USA, and he gave us a couple of free CDs of Persian music and a Iranian flag pin. The music was quite good.

Right next door to the Iran Pavilion is the DPRK (North Korea) Pavilion. Since these countries are nowhere near each other geographically, the location of their pavilions has been the subject of much speculation and jokes. It almost makes one wonder if the US chose these locations, and people have jokingly referred to this area as the "Axis of Evil Square."

NORTH KOREA
Obviously visiting North Korea under its current leadership is out of the question, so I would have to settle for their Expo Pavilion. I was also eager to see how their "Supreme Leader" would present his country to the world. The pavilion itself was nice, but the souvenirs were kind of cheesy. They almost looked like relics of the Cold War. There were even models of military hardware.

One of the oddest things about this pavilion happened when I went to get a stamp for my Expo Passport. The DPRK (North Korea) Pavilion didn't have its own page, so I figured I would collect the stamps for both Koreas on South Korea's page. I placed my passport down with South Korea's page flat on the table. The guy doing the stamping then pushed the opposite page down on the table and stamped the opposite page. I guess North Korea didn't want their stamp on South Korea's page.

ASIA JOINT PAVILION I: Timor-Leste and Bangladesh

TIMOR-LESTE
This pavilion featured a movie that follows the tranquil and leisure lifestyle of this country's 1.1 million inhabitants from dawn to dusk. There were also various crafts on display, especially wood and stone carving. Also known as East Timor, Timor-Leste became the first new sovereign state of the 21st century when it achieved independence from Indonesia on May 20, 2002. It is located in Southeast Asia, about 640 km (400 miles) from Darwin Australia. Prior to being annexed by Indonesia, it was a colony of Portugal from the 16th Century until 1975, and Portuguese is still one of its official languages along with the native language of Tetum.

BANGLADESH


This was one of the most crowded pavilions we visited, but there was no waiting in line. Just moving around inside was difficult. There were lots of nice displays and a small store selling crafts and souvenirs, although many of the items were sold out when we visited. One of the main attractions here was the restaurant towards the back of the pavilion. Because of the heat, ice cream was by far the best seller. Despite having recently eaten a huge meal, I decided to buy a chicken cutlet. It was very tasty, although it didn't have the spicy heat that one typically expects from Bangladeshi cuisine.

 

 VIETNAM
The outside of this pavilion was covered with over 80,000 bamboo poles, and inside, bamboo was used to create arches that support the ceiling. Bamboo was chosen as the main construction material to represent Vietnam's commitment to protecting the environment. Bamboo grows up to four feet per day, allowing it to produce up to 20 times more timber per hectare (or acre) than trees. Bamboo also produces 35% more oxygen than a similar-sized stand of trees.  

2010 is the 1,000 year anniversary of the founding of Hanoi, so that was a major focus of the exhibits in the pavilion. There were lots of traditional artwork, musical instruments, ancient pottery, and a giant statue of the Buddha of Compassion Quan Am (in Vietnamese).

SOUTH KOREA
The Republic of Korea Pavilion was one of the most popular pavilions we visited. It was also one of the best. The regular line was about 5 hours on the day we visited. This pavilion was also one of the first pavilions to restrict green channel access. When we arrived at the VIP entrance, we were initially told that we couldn't enter unless we had a "Certificate of Disability" issued by the People's Republic of China. I explained to the gatekeeper that since my mother wasn't from China, she obviously wouldn't have such a certificate. After being sent to explain our situation to workers from the pavilion itself, we were allowed to enter.

The exterior of the pavilion building was designed to represent the 20 basic letters of the ROK's alphabet. Inside, the main exhibition area is divided into 4 major sections: nature, technology, humanity, and culture. One of the highlights of this exhibition is a quartet of hologram guides called "Virtual Friends" that direct visitors through the major themed areas. A Korean lady, an IT engineer, a foreign chef, and a Korean fashion model represent nature, technology, humanity, and culture respectively. The pavilion also has a Korean restaurant on the 2nd floor, a snack bar on the 3rd floor, and a very crowded souvenir shop on the 1st floor.

The main attraction for this pavilion is a very nice 3D movie named "Chorus City." It's a touching story about a young girl in a wheelchair who once dreamed of becoming a ballerina. She starts out very sad and very angry at the world, but learns to laugh again with the help of some superheroes. The young girl is played by a famous South Korean actress named Jeon Min Seo and the superheroes are played by a "chorus" of Korean pop stars that are apparently famous in China as well as Korea. The lead superhero is played by a K-Pop star named U-know Yunho, who is very popular in Korea, Japan, and China. I think having so many famous pop stars in the movie is one of the reasons this pavilion is so popular.

Since Korea will be hosting the next officially recognized expo, there is an entire section dedicated to the Expo 2012 Yeosu Korea. The theme for Expo 2012 Yeosu is "The Living Ocean and Coast: Diversity and Sustainability," and the promotion section includes a virtual aquarium where visitors can create a custom digital fish, sea turtle, or other creature and release it to swim around. Because there is so much to see at this pavilion, it takes almost an hour to see everything.

ASIAN JOINT PAVILION II: Palestine, Syria, Afghanistan, Jordan

PALESTINE PAVILION
This pavilion is nicely-decorated and focuses heavily on Jerusalem. In the center, there is a mock-up of a typical Palestinian living room. There is also a model of the Dome of the Rock and the surrounding area, some traditional Palestinian clothing, a nativity scene, and a short movie about Jerusalem.

A small store near the exit sold various products and crafts. The pavilion itself was quite crowded, and the store was sold out of many items. There were t-shirts, soaps, and other items on display, but they were completely sold out or those. Olive oil was prominently featured, as were wood carvings of Christian themes. Glassware and porcelain was still plentiful, but the possibility of breakage probably kept many Expo visitors from buying it.


SYRIA PAVILION
The theme for the Syria Pavilion is "Damascus: The Oldest Capital Still Inhabited." The Pavilion itself features the distinctive architecture and culture of Syria. In the center of the pavilion is a courtyard with a well surrounded by valuable antiques. The three main exhibits in the pavilion are Cultural Stories of the Wheat/Silk road, an Arabic Library, and From Hamoukar to Modern Damascus. This pavilion was very crowded.

AFGHANISTAN PAVILION
The design of this pavilion is inspired by the Blue Mosque of Herat. It features blue and green mosaic times and has beautiful Afghan rugs hanging from the walls. The rugs are just a few of the 400 items on display from the Rahimy Collection of Afghan Treasures, and other items include textiles, silver jewelry, and a nomad tent. There is also a bazaar that sells various craft items, jewelry, textiles, nuts, dried fruits, and spices.

JORDAN PAVILION
The entrance of the pavilion is designed to resemble the ancient architecture of Petra. Inside, the architecture is in the Hellenistic style. The theme of the pavilion is "We Make Our Ordinary Lifestyle, Extraordinary" and the exhibits here celebrate Jordan's history and culture. It also traces the evolution of Aqaba from a port to a city of commerce and leisure. There is also a section with pictures and biographies of important Jordanians, including the current and former king. Near the exit, there is a shop selling beautiful sand art in glass bottles.

 

MOROCCO PAVILION
Featuring traditional Moroccan architecture, this pavilion was absolutely beautiful, inside and out. The theme of this pavilion is very simple: The Art of Life. However, it is well-reflected in the exhibits as well as the building itself. There is a courtyard in the center which is closed off to visitors. Although this forces visitors to crowd around the outside, the open space makes the pavilion seem less crowded than it actually is. It also allows visitors unobstructed views of the interior. Although advanced technology was used in the construction of the pavilion, it remains behind the scenes, and the overall look is one of traditional Moroccan culture.

QATAR PAVILION
The exterior of the pavilion is reminiscent of the landmark Barzan Tower. Located in Doha, this tower once served as a lunar observatory as well as a lighthouse for ships. There are many interesting exhibits spread out over two floors. Upstairs, there is a Bedouin tent with Quataris dressed in traditional clothing. Visitors can even have their picture taken in the tent. Since there was a long line of people waiting ot have their picture taken, I just took a picture of a Chinese woman sitting there instead. Downstairs there were more cultural and art exhibits. There was also an exhibit featuring Qatar's new green technologies. Qatar is rich in oil and pearls, and these resources were also prominently featured.

SRI LANKA
This pavilion had one large open space, that was almost completely filled with people. The ceiling was covered with traditional batik paintings and the walls were decorated with paintings, photographs, and flags. Sri Lanka's Buddhist heritage was heavily emphasized, and there were many Buddha statues and Buddhist art. In the center there is a pavilion (inside a pavilion) that resembles a Sri Lankan Buddhist temple. There is also a very nice 1:800 scale model of the World Heritage City named Kandy. One of the four walls was almost entirely taken up by a store selling all sorts of stuff. They had crafts, clothing, Buddhist merchandise, and food. I bought a bottle of Sri Lankan hot sauce, which was oddly enough made in Japan. It was very tasty, but even though I bought the hottest they had, it wasn't really very hot.

NEPAL PAVILION
Featuring traditional Nepalese architecture, this is one of the most beautiful pavilions at Expo. The pavilion itself is like a work of art, and it took 350 families of artisans almost two years to handcraft more than 500 tons of material including wood, metal, brick, porcelain, and stone for the exhibitions as well as the pavilion itself. The pavilion is named the "Nepal Arniko Center" to commemorate the artist Arniko, who made great contributions to the friendship between Nepal and China. I'm guessing that Nepal went all out on their pavilion in the hopes of boosting tourism from China. This pavilion also had lots of food for sale. I bought a fried chicken leg for 10 yuan ($1.50). It was excellent and they were selling like crazy. All over the pavilion, you could see people walking around gnawing on chicken legs. KFC is the most popular fast food restaurant in China, but the Colonel has nothing on the Nepal Pavilion.

 

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