Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Expo 2005

Expo 2005! A chance for all the countries of the world to present something at a giant festival where we can learn about each other and the environment (the 2005 theme).

Expo at night.

Expo was cool, but totally crazy. The lines were insane. Some pavillions had lines with wait times of over 3 hours. Needless to say, I did not get to see all of them. Some of my favorites:
- UN Pavilion which had a fantastic photo exhibit from around the world (I have snapshots of some, but due to technical dificulties I can't put them up right now. Perhaps I can fix that later.)
- The French Pavillion had a great movie which took a very honest look at what everyone (specifically France) is doing that is harming the environment. Really well done.
- The Lithuanian Pavillion had great beer and really cool people working there.
- The Korean Pavillion had a poignant animated movie about the destruction and rebirth of the natural environment
- The Turkish Pavillion won the coveted Tori Low Prize for Best Design.

The Turkish Pavillion

- And of course, the Toyota pavillion where James was performing.
Tickets to get into that show are an incredibly hot commodity. James was able to get tickets, but it had to be done in secret. We had to meet at a certain location at a specific time for the drop.

On Tuesday, I went to that secret location.

A young woman sidles up next to me.

"You are, perhaps, a friend of James."

"Yes, perhaps I am."

She slips me an envelope with the tickets and walks away.

The show was pretty entertaining, with robots that can dance and play instruments. Plus there is a fantastic aerialist (James) who flies around above the dancers looking pretty cool (though James thinks the costume makes him look like a chicken).

Finally, I will offer you my experience with the Linimo.
The Linimo is an elevated train that is powered by magnets. The train itself hovers slightly above the track because of the like charges. As a result, you have an incredibly smooth ride. This train line is what you take to go to and from the Expo site. Expo, as I have mentioned, was packed. Taking the Linimo home at the end of the day was an intimate experience in squishing together with a bunch of strangers. Fortunately, the train is air conditioned because it was stinking hot and humid in Japan.

On my last day at Expo, James and I stayed until closing then joined the thousands of other people who wanted to go home. There we were riding along, packed in like sardines when all of a sudden - - - whoooooom - - - (you know that lovely sound that happens when the power goes out), and the lights go out, the fans stop, and the train DROPS. Not far, just an inch or two, but enough to make everyone in the train gasp and go totally silent. We sat in that heavy silence for about 30 seconds, then people began murmuring things to each other. What was going on? What happened? How can we get out of the train? We are several stories up, what happens if we fall?

There is static and the train conductor comes on. He says something in Japanese. We sit and wait. It is getting really really hot and stuffy. Finally the train starts up again. We start going, and just as suddenly it happens again. Whoooooom, drop. More waiting, more silence, more tension, more announcements. We start up again, and eventually make it to our stop. I have never been so happy to get of a train before.

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