Five years ago, in the fifth month of my fifth year in China, the Shanghai World Expo 2010 had opened it gates and yours truly had front row seats as a staff member of the Israeli Pavilion.
When people ask me how it was like working at the Expo I always reply with the same answer: It was the best and the worst job I have ever had – a pleasant nightmare.
Say what you will about managing a huge crowd in unbearable heat, being an expo employee did have its perks and benefits. The expo compound was the coolest place to be at the time. Surreal structures were home to a vibrant nightlife scene. People came from all over the world to celebrate diversity, and as expo employees we all had a free pass for the entire period it was open.
But the cherry on top, at least for me, was the fact that this place was a photographers’ paradise. I can only describe it as place where light and texture reach critical mass and trigger a beautiful explosion of shapes and colors. But why describe it? Just see for yourself.
Almost 200 countries and 50 organizations participated in the event. That is why it is known as the Olympics of exhibitions.
Over 73 million visitors attended the event and that meant one thing – lines!
The entire venue covered over more the 5 square km:
It had pavilions in both Pudong and Puxi and you had to cross the river if you wanted to see everything:
And there was much to see. The theme of the 2010 Expo was ‘better city better life’ (in Chinese城市，让生活更美好) but each pavilion could interpret that anyway they wanted. This is the main piece of Hunan Pavilion:
Artistic freedom was the key phrase. The main piece in the Spanish pavilion was an unusually large baby.
The main attraction was the pavilion of Saudi Arabia. People were queuing for eight hours to get in there.
It attraction more people than the Chinese Pavilion, here is at night well past closing time:
Being the one of the tallest pavilions, it had a magnificent view:
But the beauty was no matter where you went, awesome shots were waiting to be taken. This is the Oil Pavilion from the outside:
And this one is a reflection on the floor which was taken inside:
In the German pavilion the main attraction was a light ball which responded to sound:
Floating chairs in the Italian pavilion:
Speaking of floating chairs, the Swiss pavilion had its own ski lift minus the skiing:
And in the Danish pavilion you could bike your way around:
The pavilion of the UAE was shaped like a dune and one cloud pretended to be a tumble weed:
The UAE Pavilion was probably the second most popular pavilion:
Some countries united their pavilion. This is the joint pavilion of Africa in long exposure:
Giving the camera a spin inside the pavilion of England:
Most Expo employees will tell you the bane of their existence was the expo-passport. Visitors went crazy trying to stamp every page, and that made our job much more difficult:
But no matter how tough it was for the employees, the young expo volunteers had it rougher. Collecting pins was one way to get your mind of things.
A much better way to wind down after a long day was the legendary expo parties. They were the perfect combination of a unique venue, young diverse crowd, music and fun.
A couple of nights each week after closing time, one of the pavilions would throw a party.
It wasn’t only parties, sometimes there was even live music. This is a heavy metal band performing in the Finish pavilion:
Speaking of Finnish, I’ll finish with a photo taken in the Pavilion of Shanghai:
The 2015 Expo is now held in Milan Italy under the theme ‘Feeding the Planet’. The Olympics of exhibitions held in Italy and dedicated to food? Maybe it’s worth checking it out…