MontanaRon

An English teacher's blog about his travels and his digital art.

Month: May 2012 (page 1 of 2)

Yeosu Expo 2012-Argentina Pavilion

Argentina Pavilion Entrance

Argentina Pavilion Entrance

The Argentine Pavilion is one of those small ones that are usually pretty accessible (no long lines). There’s nothing superbly special about it, but it’s pretty and friendly. It’s a large open room with a mezzanine filled with touch-screen videos, and a few of the walls incorporate even larger video screens. There’s a small snack bar, but the best thing about the beverage area is a nice selection of Argentinian wine. You can buy a bottle and share with friends, or you can buy it by the glass.

Here’s a shot of the interior ground floor looking toward the snack bar.

Argentina Pavilion

Argentina Pavilion

And a shot of one of the larger video screens and the mezzanine above it.

Argentina Pavilion

Argentina Pavilion

Here’s the somewhat small menu.

Argentina Pavilion Snack Bar Menu

Snack Bar Menu

And a good selection of wine. One of my friends said of her glass of Malbec was delicious.

Argentina Wine

Argentina Wine

As we were enjoying the Pavilion, who should walk in but Mavi Diaz and Las Folkies! We chatted with them for a while, and Corrie, one of my colleagues, ended up buying one of their CDs. It was a pleasant surprise to end our tour of the Argentine Pavilion.

Mavi Diaz at the Argentine Pavilion

Mavi Diaz and Las Folkies at the Pavilion

Here’s my opinion of the Argentine Pavilion:

Day and Time Visited: Saturday, May 19th at 8:30 p.m.
Interior Design: Lots of stripes, blue, functional
Lines: I’ve never seen a long one here
Multimedia: Several touch screen videos and larger wall-sized video screens
Souvenir Shop: None
Cultural Assets: None (except for the wine)
Restaurant/Bar: Small menu, nice selection of wine, food looked appetizing
Overall Rating: An easy place to visit, quick in and out, unless you stop to try the wine. Most of these small pavilions have their own charm and the staff are usually quite friendly and easy to talk with. Give it a shot while your waiting for longer lines at other pavilions to go down.

Yeosu Expo 2012-Argentina Cultural Performance

A couple of colleagues and I were lucky enough to take in the performance of Argentinian folk-rock legend Mavi Diaz and her female backing band, Las Folkies, several days ago. They performed at the Ocean Plaza to a good-sized audience, which got into the infectious rhythms of the performers. Here are a few images from the 30-minute concert.

Mavi Diaz

Mavi Diaz

Keyboardist Silvana Albano

Las Folkies Keyboardist Silvana Albano

Las Folkies Keyboardist Silvana Albano

Mavi and guitarist Pampi Torre

Mavi Diaz and Las Folkies Guitarist Pampi Torre

Mavi Diaz and Las Folkies Guitarist Pampi Torre

Las Folkies percussionist Martina Ulrich

Las Folkies percussionist Martina Ulrich

Las Folkies percussionist Martina Ulrich

Mavi and Pampi

Mavi Diaz and Pampi Torre

Mavi Diaz and Pampi Torre

I’ll have a bit more on Mavi Diaz later.

Yeosu Expo 2012-Pavilion Reservations Abolished

The short-lived attempt to institute a reservations system for visiting some of the major pavilions was abolished recently; it just wasn’t working. You can read about it by clicking here and finding the page for May 27th.

That page states that:

The Organizing Committee decided to abolish its pavilion reservation system, considering continued discontent among visitors. They suffered inconveniences, since 8 pavilions were often crowded with too many visitors and reservation was completed in an instant.

The “First Come First Served System” will be applied to visitors as they tour pavilions, starting from May 28.

If you had a reservation under the old system, it is still valid.

I can attest that the system wasn’t working. I had a reservation to the Theme Pavilion, but I didn’t even try to get in because of the huge lines that didn’t seem to be moving, but kept getting longer and longer, with quite a few unhappy  faces. Let’s hope the “first come, first serve” way works better.

Yeosu Expo 2012-Uruguay Pavilion

Uruguay Pavilion Entrance Sign

Entrance Sign to the Uruguay Pavilion

You could blow through the Uruguay Pavilion in 5 minutes, but, even though it’s small, it’s a well-done pavilion, with about a dozen small interactive video screens that give plenty of information about the country. There’s also a small snack bar with good seating and good food. I had a chivito (steak sandwich) with french fries, and, let me tell you, those fries are the best I’ve found at the Expo, with Belgian Fries a close second. So, give the pavilion a try, and, if you’re there in the morning, say hello to Roberto, an American expat living in Yeosu, who greets visitors at the entrance.

Note: Even though some of the pavilions are small, they’re all worth going through. You can find more than a few surprises (like the Uruguay snack bar), they’re usually quite nice, and, best of all, many of them have much shorter lines than the larger, major pavilions.

Here’s a shot of part of the interior.

Uruguay Pavilion

Uruguay Pavilion

The Montevideo Cafe.

Uruguay Montevideo Cafe

Montevideo Cafe

And here’s a close-up of the menu.

Uruguay Cafe Menu

Menu at the Uruguay Pavilion Cafe

Finally, the small, but interesting gift shop.

Uruguay Pavilion Gift Shop

Uruguay Pavilion Gift Shop

My review:

Time and Day Visited: Thursday, May 24th, about 1:30 p.m.
Interior Design: Simple, but nice, blue motif.
Lines: I go by there often, but I’ve never seen many long lines.
Multimedia: About a dozen touch-screen videos.
Souvenir Shop: Small, but adequate
Cultural Assets: Not many.
Restaurant/Bar: Nice little cafe with pretty good food (check out the french fries), but no Uruguayan alcoholic beverages.
Overall Rating: Sure, check it out. Very friendly pavilion workers, good food in the cafe, no long lines, and interesting.

Yeosu Expo 2012-Another Accomodations Website

One of the blog readers, winsess, left a comment a few posts below this one about another website that lists acoomodations near the Expo. If you’re still planning on coming over and you need to find a room, check out BnBHero by clicking here. You have to create an account on the website, but it looks pretty painless AND it’s in English. Thanks for the great link, winsess!

Yeosu Expo 2012-A Few Observations

I’ll have some more pavilion reviews coming soon. Hopefully, I can tell you about the Argentina, Spain, Uruguay, Lithuania and a few other pavilions. Now at the university, were heading into the end-of-semester finals, so I’m going to be quite busy the next few weeks. After that, I’m going to Thailand and Laos for about 10 days and then coming back to Yeosu. Unfortunately, there will be a dry spell on Expo reporting for a couple of weeks during that time. Before I go on vacation, I’ll probably post a few quick reviews of some of the other pavilions. Of course, after around July 7th or so, I’ll pick up the pace again.

I’m going out to the Expo today, and I hope to visit my first pavilion other than an international one. I made a reservation at the Theme Pavilion, so I hope to post a review on that in the next few days.

In order to visit some of the other major pavilions, it’s necessary to make a reservation if you want to visit them before 7 p.m. That system is in place in order to control the huge crowds that want to visit these places. There are 8 pavilions you have to make reservations for, including the Theme Pavilion, Korea Pavilion and Aquarium. A full list and the procedure for making a reservation can be found here.

It’s a fairly simple process, but you must already have a ticket in order to make a reservation. After you buy a ticket at the site, you can make a reservation at one of the many kiosks that are scattered around the Expo site. (If you already have a ticket, you can do it over the Internet or cell phone.) However, I have my doubts that the system actually works. I walked by the Theme Pavilion yesterday just to locate where people with reservations should line up. I didn’t see anything like that at all, just hordes of people waiting to get in. I’ve had others tell me that even with reservations, the waiting time is extremely long. I’ll let you know what happens.

As I’ve said about the international pavilions, go early in the morning if possible, or later in the evening. Attendance seems to be steadily increasing, day by day. Yesterday was quite crowded, even though it was a weekday. International Pavilion lines at some of the major country pavilions (Russia, USA, Thailand, and others) were quite long in the late morning/early afternoon.

Another good option is to catch the performance of the countries who are having their national days on most of the days of the Expo. Yesterday was Ecuador’s national day, and they had an hour-long performance at the Expo Hall, which is attached to the International Pavilion building. The auditorium seats about 800, but it was less than half full. The performance was awesome! Two groups performed; Poder Negro is an African-influenced group and the other group, whose name escapes me at the moment, performs more of an Andean-influenced music. Both groups were tight, energetic crowd pleasers. I’ll have some photos of them soon. You can find out which countries are having national days by going to the Expo home page, then click on Culture and Academics –> Official Event Calendar. I think all of the National Day performances run from 10-11 a.m., but some of them occur twice a day.

OK, I have three classes to teach, starting in about 10 minutes, and then I’m off to the Expo! More later.

Yeosu Expo 2012-Russia Pavilion

Russia Pavilion Entrance

Russia Pavilion Entrance

I’ve had some people tell me that the Russian pavilion isn’t all that great, and others have told me they liked it. I thought it was very good. It’s one of those guided tour pavilions, with only a limited amount of people let in at one time (about 50), so be careful of long lines if you don’t have much time.

The pavilion focuses mainly on Russia’s exploration and exploitation of the Arctic Ocean. After walking through an “ice tunnel”, you’re first given an introduction on a large video screen, then you go into a large theater made out like the deck of an old research ship. There, you watch quite a good animation of Russian ocean vessels projected onto the walls of the room. The video lasts about 7 or 8 minutes.

Here’s a shot of a timeline of Russian explorers in the intro area.

Russia Pavilion

Russia Pavilion Timeline

The “ice tunnel.”

Russia Pavilion tunnel of ice

The Ice Tunnel

Pretty cool animated video of Russian icebreakers, research ships and others.

Russia Pavilion

Russian Icebreaker

The final hall contains lots of mock-ups of ships, research vessels, and other interesting paraphernalia. At the end of the hall is a simulation that lets you be the captain of a large ocean-going ship, steering wherever you want to go, sort of like a video game.

Here’s a submersible and a diving suit.

Russia Pavilion

Russia Pavilion Models

And a scale model of a research vessel.

Russia Pavilion

Research Vessel

Here, you can try to steer a large ship around the ocean. Nice video game!

Russia Pavilion

Ship Pilot Simulation

The souvenir stand is quite good, crammed with traditional nesting/babushka dolls. However, as in some of the other major pavilions, one of the highlights of the Russian Pavilion is a charming restaurant just outside of the souvenir stand, featuring a decent menu, with a variety of, what else, vodka flavored drinks.

The souvenir stand, followed by some of the many babushka dolls.

Russia Pavilion Souvenir Shop

Souvenir Shop

Russia Pavilion Babushka Dolls

Babushka Dolls

Here’s an image of the interior of the cozy restaurant.

Russia Pavilion Restaurant

"Russia Pavilion Restaurant

And, here’s the menu. I had to keep it at a very large size in order to be able to read it, so give it a click or two.

Russia Pavilion Restaurant Menu

Menu

So that’s the Russia Pavilion and here’s my take on it:

Time and Day Visited: Thursday, May 17th at around noon.
Interior Design: Pretty good, functional, scientific motif
Lines: None today, but I have seen some long ones here at various times.
Multimedia: Videos, animation, interactive screens and models, ship simulator
Souvenir Shop: Very nice, crammed with various items
Cultural Assets: Hmmm, not many traditional items, like balalaikas, but plenty of modern Russian scientific gear.
Restaurant/Bar: A small restaurant where you can order Russian fare and alcohol (Russian vodka!). I haven’t eaten here yet, so I can’t comment on the quality, but it looks pretty good.
Overall Rating: Go see it, but avoid any long lines. It’s a large pavilion with enough to interest most people, and it’s time well spent. Let me know how the food is if you eat at the restaurant.

Yeosu Expo 2012-France Pavilion

The entrance sign for the French Pavillion

France Pavilion Entrance Sign

From the somewhat underwhelming sign that adorns the entrance to the French Pavilion, one might not have very high expectations for what the interior might hold. But, with typical French artistic flair, this is one of the more beautiful country pavilions at the Expo.

There are three halls, which I’ve dubbed “The Hall of Mirrors,” “The Electric Blue Hall,” and “The Green Hall.” Not very inspiring names, but they’ll have to do until I, or you, think up some better ones.

The Mirror Hall features lots of, umm, . . . mirrors. It’s like going to an old-time carnival Hall of Mirrors. A bit disconcerting, so be careful not to smack into one of them.

France Pavilion Hall of Mirrors

France Pavilion Hall of Mirrors

Along the right hand side are several scenes that show various French landmarks underwater with colored, electric fish swimming serenely through the famous areas. I hope this isn’t a prediction of the height of the rising water levels due to climate change!

French Pavilion Scene

Arc d' Triomphe Underwater at French Pavilion

Another image of the Hall of Mirrors

French Pavilion Hall of Mirrors

Hall of Mirrors

In a room just off the Hall of Mirrors is this large model of a futuristic undersea research vessel. Looks like it would be an awesome place to live and work.

French Pavilion Research Vessel

Research Vessel Model

Next up is “The Electric Blue Hall.” This one was very difficult to photograph, due to the very low light levels. I had to crank up my camera’s ISO and do some tricky adjustments in Photoshop, but I still couldn’t get it quite right. I’m going to start carrying my tripod with my when I go out to the Expo on weekday mornings and evenings, when it’s less crowded. That’s my colleague Andy watching the video screen in the background.

French Pavilion Electric Blue Hall

The Electric Blue Hall

There were some “tanks” in this room, too, with electric fish swimming around a bright white light, but the photos I took didn’t turn out so good, so you’ll have to go see them for yourself. Here’s the exit from the hall.

French Pavilion Electric Blue Hall

Exit From the Electric Blue Hall

The final “Green Hall” leads the way out of the pavilion. This is a landscape-themed hall, more or less, with your usual robot enjoying itself on a tree swing. (See second photo below)

French Pavilion Green Hall

The Green Hall

French Pavilion Green Hall

The Green Hall

There are two disappointments about the French Pavilion. They are the lack of a souvenir stand and the lack of a restaurant/bar. These are certainly not enough to spoil your enjoyment of the pavilion, but for those looking for such things, it might dampen your enthusiasm a bit.

Time and Day visited: Friday, May 18th at 6:45 p.m.
Interior Design: Outstanding (My photos don’t do it justice)
Lines: There weren’t any at this time of day, nor are there any in the morning, but afternoons there are occasionally long lines. Go early or late if you’re pressed for time.
Multimedia: A few interactive screens, videos, and simulations
Souvenir Shop: None
Cultural Assets: Very Few
Restaurant/Bar: None
Overall Rating: Well worth a visit because of the interior design alone, but a bit of a disappointment that there is no restaurant to chow down on French cheeses and wines.

Yeosu Expo 2012-Central African Republic Performance

If you’re walking around the Expo, there are so many things to see and experience, including cultural performances. I was lucky enough to be present for this performance of the Central African Republic. I love African music–it’s so energetic and exciting, in my opinion. So, these folks were a real treat–exciting rhythms and a bit of a fashion show. Enjoy.

Central African Republic Performers

Central African Republic Performers

Central African Republic Performers

Central African Republic Performers

Central African Republic Performers

Central African Republic Performers

Central African Republic Performers

Central African Republic Performers

Central African Republic Performers

Central African Republic Performers

Central African Republic Performers

Central African Republic Performers

Central African Republic Performers

Central African Republic Performers

Central African Republic Performers

Central African Republic Performers

Central African Republic Performers

Central African Republic Performers

Yeosu Expo 2012-Belgium Pavilion

Depending on the time of day (I think after 2 p.m.) when you walk into the entrance to the Belgium Pavilion, you’re offered a cookie and a piece of chocolate. It’s really a nice introduction to this small, but charming pavilion. Oddly, I haven’t taken a photo of the outside entrance, but the next time I’m at the Expo (probably this Tuesday), I’ll take a shot and post it here.

There are three main areas of the pavilion. Upon entering, you’re in a room that features interactive screens about Belgium and its relation to the ocean. Also in this room is a rotating platform where you can view a few chocolatiers plying their famous Belgian trade. The smell is, obviously, quite nice and you may be able to get a few more free samples. (I’m not sure about that because I didn’t spend enough time at the chocolate carousel to find out.)

Belgium Chocolatiers

Making Chocolate Goodies

Another area is the great souvenir shop, where you can buy, what else, chocolate and other Belgian products. It’s one of the better souvenir shops at the Expo, so give it more than a cursory look.

Belgium Souvernir Shop

Belgium Souvenir Shop

Finally, there’s a delightful restaurant, featuring several different Belgian offerings and a small selection of Belgium’s famous beer. I haven’t tried the food yet, but it definitely looks appetizing. Here’s a shot of the restaurant and the food menu.

Belgium Restaurant

Belgium Restaurant

Belgium Menu

Belgium Menu

And here’s Corrie, a colleague, enjoying a refreshing Hoegarden beer.

Belgian Beer

Corrie Enjoying a Hoegarden

Another interesting thing about the pavilion, for me, at least, is that several of my former students work there, mainly on the weekend. Walking into the pavilion is like walking into one of my English classes! The young men and women working there are extremely friendly and their English skills are pretty good. Definitely pop in and say hello to them and tell them that Ron sent you. Also ask for Ian or Etian, two of the Belgian supervisors and great guys. Here’s a shot of some of the souvenir shop workers and one of the Belgian chefs. The two in the middle are former students.

Belgium Pavilion Workers

Belgium Pavilion Workers

So, here’s a concise rating of the Belgian Pavilion:

time and day visited-several different times, including weekends and early daytime weekdays
decor–charming
lines–haven’t seen any very long lines, probably because this is not a guided tour
multimedia–several interactive screens
souvenir shop–excellent
cultural assets–chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate!
restaurant/bar–quite nice, appealing looking food, small but nice selection of beer
overall rating–very good, you can spend some time here watching the chocolatiers, browsing the souvenir shop or enjoying the restaurant offerings. Definitely put this on on your list of places to visit, especially if you’re a chocolate lover.

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