International Expo FTW

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September 12th 2012
Published: September 12th 2012
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While starting my post about my vacation in Indonesia, I realized that I never got around to posting an entry about the Yeosu Expo, which would be a grave error because it was absolutely amazing!

We had a three-day weekend, thanks to Buddha’s Birthday, so I headed down to Yeosu (southern edge of Korea) for an international expo. The theme was “The Living Ocean and Coast”. We left Friday night (BIG debacle because a couple of us had to miss 10 minutes of our last class and even though we found people to cover for us, it still went over poorly). We took the slow train down (about 5 hours) because it costs half as much, which means it costs $25 to cross their entire country the LONG way. Takes about as long as it took me to take the train between Chicago and East Lansing. We got in around 1 in the morning (to their own, private train station, built especially for the expo), and it was nearly impossible to find a taxi. Especially since they like to pick up Koreans first (language skills) and there were many families on the train with us. Eventually we got lucky and we found our hostel quite easily. The entire town has been revamped for this expo, so everything is easy to find and every shop has a new sign in Korean and English explaining what kind of a store it is.

We made an effort to get there early both days that we were at the expo, but the lines were still incredibly long. It was advertised pretty heavily all around Korea and there was definitely a good turnout. We tried to go to the aquarium, but found out that you had to reserve your tickets in the morning, but they sell out almost immediately. Challenge. All of Korea’s pavilions required a reservation until 6 p.m. when they became a free-for-all. For the most part, we only visited them after 6 p.m. to avoid having to worry about our time slot. This worked out spectacularly, because the best part for me was the international pavilion. We managed to see every country’s exhibit that was open (we came on the 3rd weekend, so not everybody was open yet). This meant 43 countries. Some of these were so simple they involved walking around a room with some plaques on the wall and some were intense experiences. Japan’s exhibit even required their own ticketing/time system.

Some standouts were:

Qatar- henna tattoos by elaborately dressed Qatari women

China – ballerinas acting out an adorable love story between a girl and a pink dolphin

Japan – cartoon movie about the tsunami, but really specific. He was a 6th grade boy named Kai. I cried. A lot.

Singapore – really informative and interactive. I got to ride a bike around the streets of Singapore and make a wish circle (don’t know what they’re actually called)

Belgium – we ate there……. also our waiter heard we wanted to try some Belgian chocolate so he went into their exhibit (where they have chocolatiers making chocolate full-time) and brought some back for us. It was cool.

Norway – a movie about traveling from Korea to Norway, complete with Koreans dressed as Norwegian sailors, which I personally got a big kick out of.

And Switzerland – for me, the coolest exhibit by far, and I’m not being biased. They had these lights that you crossed your hands under, which would trigger a short movie to play showing something related to water/ water conservation, using your hands as the screen. So you walked down the hallway doing that for a while, which was endlessly amusing. And at the end, you could walk into a chamber that had ice from a Swiss glacier, with markings showing time, including the creation of the first Korean dynasty. Mind. Blown.

We enjoyed Korea’s pavilions, but shockingly, for an international expo, they didn’t translate it into anything but Korean. So, it was cool, but I didn’t understand much of it at all. The best was called the Theme Pavilion. It included traditional Korean dancers and a cute animated sea animal that we couldn’t identify, but looks kind of like a manatee. I think it was sort of interactive, but it was hard to tell as it was all in Korean.

We did eventually get into the aquarium, which had seals from Lake Baikal (though they were sleeping in a corner) and Beluga whales, which I think are the coolest kind of whales. They were so energetic. They seem more like dolphins.

And the BEST part was that we got to eat international food. Definitely got some Japanese yakitori (YYYUUUUMMMM) but passed on the kangaroo meat at the Australian pavilion.

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