. We took the ferry over to the West side of Expo and visited Urban Practical Living Cases. Hamburg and Shanghai both showcase the high tech, environmental friendly communities. I especially like the outdoor rain collecting wall that drains into the water lily filled pond and indoor vertical planters (straight up 4 floors). In Hamburg building, we took a picture of ourselves, which the computer displays for about 30 seconds. We then had someone took our picture standing next to the display. So we had a double image in one picture. I think it is cute. China pavilion is one of the most popular ones to visit and usually a waiting line of 4-5 hours. We got in with some help from a friend who gave us VIP passes. We were impressive with the whole exhibition. The building was in the design of ancient Chinese architect with the traditional Chinese red color. The main part of the building was this 300 plus meter long electronic version of the famous Chinese scroll painting "a day of people's life along the river during the Qingming (memorial) festival". The original painting was painted in the 1500’s including over 600 figures that were doing routine daily stuff like shopping in the market, eating in restaurants, solders parading in the streets, merchants brought in produces on camel backs. The original was a Chinese national treasure exhibited in Palace museum. The new electronic version added animation to the painting – making it even more fascinating watching the daily life of people so long ago
. This is definitely the crown jewel of the whole China exhibition. The other part of it I particular enjoyed are the 98 paintings done by children from age 6 to 14. Some of the young artists obviously are very talented. Ray and I were lucky in getting to see quite a bit of Expo exhibition with minimum of waiting in lines. In between visiting Expo, we travelled to several nearby cities including Wuzhen – an ancient water village sort of like Venice. The village is surrounded by small canals lined with willow trees. There are wooden boats you can hire for a nice float along the river. We saw a group of 18 boats that were filled with newlyweds on their ways to a group wedding ceremony and huge banquet. All part of the romantic scene created by the marketing department of Wuzeng. We also visited my ancestor home Suzhou – the famous “paradise on earth” garden city that is about 30 minutes train ride from Shanghai. We stayed at the beautifully remodeled Ping Jiang Lodge which was a remodeled ancient home (originally built in the 1600s). It has high ceiling with beautifully carved wooden furniture, even the telephone is an old dialing style. It has the traditional Su style courtyard garden making it a welcoming and calming place. Pingjiang Lodge is located at the center of Suzhou"s old town. Along the stone paved path which meander along the river with moon shape bridge led you to the world heritage “humbling administration garden” and brand new Suzhou museum designed by the world renowned architect Pei who also designed the Louve glass pyramid and the Kennedy Presidential museum
. Suzhou was Mr. Pei’s childhood home so even at the advanced age of 90 he worked hard to incorporate his talent in designing a modern museum that holds true the spirit of ancient Suzhou. The items on display were mostly exquisite ivory and wooden carving, delicate porcelains. We were very lucky because the museum happens to have a special exhibition of the famous Su style embroidery. The life like dogs, cats, flowers and landscapes were done one stitch at a time by talented Suzhou girls who dedicate months and years of their life to create a master piece of art that has no comparison in the world. One of the famous pieces containing “two sided embroidery technique” which presents a black and white panda bears on one side and a beautiful yellow cat on the other side. Even after staring it for 20 minutes, I still couldn’t comprehend how it was done and how was it possible to put such two different paintings on two side of the same piece of silk. From the DVD screen I learned that each painting contains over hundreds of color silk threats that is split into 64 strands from one single silk thread. The ladies who did the embroidery have to have very clean and smooth hands that is absolutely stable and very keen eyes. A small painting takes 3-4 months and a big piece takes years to complete. You should not miss this unique art form if you ever visit Suzhou. You will be totally enchanted by its magic just like I was. We enjoyed our dinner of butterfly fried fish with sweet and sour sauce and artistically sculpted vegetable at the historical Pine and Crane restaurant in downtown. Fresh water fish is the staple for people in Southern China. Freshly caught and prepared with care brought out the delicate flavor of the local white fish. We are half way through our stay in Shanghai region and enjoying it very much. Stay tune for our trips to Yuyao and Hangzhou. One of the Chinese proverbs I have always strive to emulate is to “enjoy one’s life by reading 10 thousand books and travel 10 thousand miles” I hope you enjoy the first segment of our “10 thousand mile SE Asia tour".
Expo 2010 is counting down for the last week. The attendance went over 70 million this week and it beats the record attendance of 64 million in Osaka, Japan in 1970. The one day record is 1.03 million - lots of people and long waiting lines. We spent a few days visiting Expo but didn't want to wait in line so we walked around the fairgrounds which is along the Huangpu River and lined with beautiful gardens. The one pavilion that is our favorite (you can watch it from outside) is Taiwan. The sphere LED screen shines beautifully at night. You can even light (if you can get inside) an electronic wish lantern that will appear going up to the sky on the screen. The Fantastic design showcases the high tech knowledge of Taiwan beautifully. My sister-in-law Teresa is THE expert in Shanghai Expo, she visited there over 25 times. One time she even got up at 4 am and waited in line at 5 am to get into China Pavilion. She is one enthusiastic supporters of Shanghai Expo. We bought dinner tickets to the Spanish pavilion, by paying 300 RMB (about $45 a person) for dinner and show (neither is worth the ticket price), you get to sidestep the long waiting line and get into the exhibition directly