SHANGHAI -- Expo 2010 Shanghai China is full steam ahead.
And the operative word here would be steam. Our recent visit to the amazing sight- a scant three weeks ago, saw the temperature reach 40.7 C-the hottest day ever recorded in Shanghai.
The largest expo the world has ever seen runs through the end of October and is beyond question a must see.
And it is a World Expo in the truest sense of the word with more than 190 countries and 50 international organizations participating. The theme "Better City - Better Life" heralds Shanghai's new status in the 21st century as the world's next great city.
It is the most expensive Expo in the history of the world's fairs and the largest with the site spanning 5.28 sq. km.
And, if the current trend continues, it will be the most visited expo ever with more than 90 million people expected through the gates.
Think about it. Ninety million people. That equates to every man, woman and child in Canada attending almost three times each!
Canada was the first country to sign a contract agreeing to open an exhibition at Expo 2010. The 6,000-square-meter Canada Pavilion, which is covered in polished steel and 4000 sq. m of red cedar, features an exhibition themed "The Living City: Inclusive, Sustainable, Creative." which reflects our history and showcases our arts, culture and democratic values. A 15 m by 40 m wall of evergreen seedlings provides the backdrop for the courtyard and a much needed respite from debilitating heat.
The Canadian Pavilion is a creative collaboration between the Government of Canada and Cirque du Soliel as well. Cirque elements are everywhere in the interactive pavilion and perhaps no where more so than while standing in line as Cirque performers delight crowds with their endearing antics.
The pavilion features the National Film Board of Canada film Glimpses/Impressions, depicting a day in the life of a composite Canadian city. Directed by Jean-François Pouliot, Glimpses was created with over 3,000 animated photos projected onto a large screen with a 150-degree curve.
And of course it would not be Canada without representation from our beloved RCMP. Scores of tourists line up by the hour to get a picture taken with the red-coated icons.
Vancouver and Montreal were chosen to exhibit within the Urban Best Practices Area showcase of the pavilion. Vancouver's exhibit is called "Cultural Heritage and Livable City: From Expo 1986 to 2010 Winter Olympics." while Montreal showcases the transformation of Saint Michel from a landfill to a green area.
But the grand-daddy of all pavilions is that of host country China. It is the largest of its kind at the Expo and most expensive at US$220 million.
The 63-meter high pavilion, the tallest structure at the Expo, is called "The Crown of the East," as it is meant to resemble an ancient Chinese crown. The pavilion contains exhibits on all the provinces of the Peoples Republic of China except for Hong Kong and Macau which are represented via their own rather small pavilions by comparison and of course separate from China's.
But be prepared to wait in line for several hours as the China pavilion is the most popular of all. The wait is certainly worth it as the sheer scale and architectural design are stunning. Sure, the 'opening video' depicting the history of China is a bit of an historical stretch (any unpleasant elements of China's history are absent), but it's all about the experience.
And experience Expo 2010 you must. The sight is vast, you'll walk until your feet burn and it's crowded. But this may be one of the last great world expos you'll see in a very long time.