It's all so unreal that you are constantly coming across picturesquely dressed people exactly like the ones you imagine seeing when reading the brochures.....
OK, the magic is a little dimmed by the ambience of the great big exhibition hall and the dreary rail trip on the DLR but there's usually some music going on and the stalls usually offer free gifts, competitions and free food, some of it utterly delicious, some of it a shade weird. (Sorry for the blurry pictures, these are all taken on my phone)
There are also some truly wonderful examples of photographic skill. This picture of a Spanish horse is life sized, and I spent a lot of time examining every detail of the horse. How skilfully lit it is, too. Although it looks lifelike at first, this is no casual snap.
I also loved this picture, which I imagine shows a Diwali scene - it was displayed above the Indian pavilion, anyway, with a beautful decorated canopy.
Each year, a few of the stalls stand out for their ingeniourness or the care that has been taken with them. The delegates from Japan looked rather small against the fierce warriors decorating their stand
This year my favourite stand belonged to Burundi. Not only were the people on the stall charming, but the girls were happily dancing around with pots on their heads, just to amuse themselves, a lot of the time, and they seemed to be really having fun.
I was also very impressed by this elegant looking person from Panama - which also had some good movies on the stand - interesting looking place which I'd never considered visiting before.
Here's a cosy scene as the Cruise America guy has his lunch
And a spot of gold-plated luxury from an Arab airline.
This is the way to do long haul travel (sorry, the actual seat - or bed - is not in view, this is just the in-flight refreshments, entertainment, grooming etc.
A hotel with a pearl fishery had brought along some real pearl oysters in an aquarium
And the arguable star of the whole show was a magnificent white Arabian hawk.
And then there was the jolly man from Booking.com - not quite sure what he was supposed to represent.
And I got some free icecream from Hertz
I had to talk with people from Egypt, Rodrigues, Spain and Sardinia, and so I didn't get round all the other stalls. But I'll do that, I hope. I have a couple of seminars to attend today, and a visit to the dentist first - urgh! So, maybe tomorrow.
And I shall definitely go to the Chile stand. and learn more about it. I want to go to Chile. It's a difficult work destination for me, outside my area of expertise - but I hope I make it there some day. Even if I have to go on an actual holiday there, and not work. Now that would be a change.