The Shanghai Expo is an entirely agreeable experience when you treat it like a multi-gazilion-bazillion dollar Hengshan Lu, avoid learning new things and experiencing different cultures like a fatal disease, and hit as many pavilion bars as possible.
Get wrecked. Be obnoxious. It's what it's all about. It's what joins us all together, man. Primal, man. Primal.
Last night, several thoughtful members of the media community and I went extreme junket whoring through the Shanghai Expo, cutting a deep and serious gash into the bit with all the European Pavilions. The Expo Bar Crawl was organized by Adam Minter, he of Shanghai Scrap acclaim and prestige. If you're unfamiliar with his writings on the Expo, you should check it out. He's been motor-boating the Shanghai Expo since it was announced, with extensive and in-depth coverage on pretty much all of it, really. Start with his revised guide to the Expo, and then move on to anything to do with the hilarious American Pavilion, which culminates into this article in Foreign Policy. That's the juice.
So Minter planned this route through the Expo, and put a lot of thought into it, accounting for traveling time, cultural diversity, and opportunities for personal edification. This is really the best way to do it. Here's the beauty of this thing: to get into the pavilions, unless you run the blaaaag, you have to wait in some unholy line. Horseshit. Right up until most of the pavilions were closing, most of them still had lines of people trying to get in, and I thought to myself, you poor, poor bastards. What are you thinking?
The pavilion bars on the other hand -- you can go right in those and not wait at all.
Here's where we went and what we drank.
You start at Gate 8. In order.
Kedi Mart Pavilion - Tsingies
Chile - Don't remember. It was yellow, foamy and quite delicious.
Canada - Selections from Big Rock (Warthog, Grasshopper), Pacific Lager
Cuba - Doing renovations. Booo.
Malta - Cisk Beer
Moldova - Lion Gri (red and white wine)
The Porterhouse (basically Ireland) - Porterhouse Red
Belgium - Bar was closed or something. Or something else happened, I dunno. We didn't have anything in Belgium I don't think.
Spain - Sangria
Italy - Didn't get in. Think we missed our free booze window.
Angola - Beer, beer, beer.
Tips for a memorable Expo experience:
-The best way to experience interesting new cultures is on your worst, most embarrassing behavior and then the next day though a haze of regret. Get it done, my friends.
-Stay away from Russian teens with super soakers -- they're up to mischief and they're on some next level shit when it comes to delinquency in Russia.
-It's best to go at night, and stick around for the "after parties", at which the Expo turns into an episode of Captain Planet on ecstasy.
-Watch out: The Canadians will suck you in with their politeness and affability. These people are time burglars. You need to keep moving.
-The big Guinness plush mascot costumes at the front door of The Porterhouse. Those are for you to wear. Put those on. No one will stop you.
-The Malta Pavilion missed a huge opportunity in not naming their pavilion bar "Malteasers". They must be kicking themselves.
-There are meat pies available at or near The Porterhouse. They are delicious. I don't know how much they cost or where they specifically come from, but they are out there and you should bash on those.
-The Expo is probably the only place on earth that you can walk around asking people, "Hey, where's the party at? Where's the party at?" and not feel like the prize fool.
-With people from all nationalities all over the world getting together and "exchanging cultures", for single people, the Expo is pretty much a giant, pan-sexual Rorschach Blot.
-Smokers, they take your lighters at the entrance when you try to get in. Bum a light off an Expo worker, keep a constant cigarette going after that and carry it aloft over your head like the Olympic torch. It's all about sustainability, man.
-Don't take any guff from the Spanish pavilion. They will try to deny you entrance. Don't stand for their effrontery: "I have two eyes and I can see people in there drinking. Let me in." Treat them swiftly and curtly -- demand admission citing your inner wealth and significance.
-Make sure someone else plans everything for you -- "expo gates", getting there and back, and where to go. Ideally, you want to be in a situation where you are lead around like an invalid and all you have to do is drink whatever someone hands you.
-After party? Russia is out and ANGOLA IS IN.
Here's some pictures! Yay!