Saturday, June 12, 2010

World Expo 2010 Shanghai

Never planned to visit Shanghai for World EXPO in such an early stage as always feel that i would only visit it during my own private holiday in Oct after the golden week to avoid the huge crowd and hot weather. But, man can never beat the god who created a chance so early in end May for me (a consolation when he knows that i cant volunteer myself to work there).

I was surprised to hear that i am supposed to go for a regional meeting in Shanghai in end May since we have been on tight shoe-lace budget after the financial crisis in 2009, all budgets were cut including travel. After consulted my advisor, I gladlly accepted the offer and picked up the bag and flew off.

After the official meetings concluded on 28 May noon, i took a cab with colleagues and rush to World Expo site, alighted at Pudong Changqing Road, near Gate 7 which is nearest to the site of Singapore Pavilion.

We went in by using our staff working pass, and i managed to cover 10+2 pavilions from 2 pm to 10 pm, my friends told me that it was really remarkable as not many people can cover so many in 8 hours considering long queue at most of the pavilion. But i told them i was lucky that there isnt queue at some pavilions eg Australia, Turkey, NZ, Denmark etc when we were there at night. The longest queue was 1.5 hour at UK pavilion, and shortest was 20 mins for Italy under light rain with nice breeze. UK's arthitecture design was so spectaular even though there is only one things to see inside, but it was so unique as you will never imagine what is the exhibit that can attract such a big crowd until you see it. To many of the visitors including myself it was worth it as it is nothing but the meaningful seeds which represent the source of relationship, development and culture etc and sow it early on the land of China for nurturing and cultivation.

I like Italy Pavilion best, as it has so much to wow you, the big character "fortune福" on the wall of the entrance, from culture, architecture, to modern fashion, hanging orchestra, and a snap shot of World Expo 2015 in Milan. Even their service staff are in branded Prada uniforms, 2 sets per staff, and they were so courteous and friendly.

We were quite lucky in the way that the crowd was not thick on that day as it was drizzling since morningso it was managable. After having a quick scan of the Spore Pavilion (not much thing to see, quite disappointed), we cant wait to move on to the European zone, and the first one was Finland. We queued for 40 min and got in. They were smart to have Finish staff at the entrance to engage the visitors while waiting and educate us with a few frequently use word in Finish language and created many laughters, so the entire queue journey was not boring...

Taiwan Pavilion is a must visit also even u are seeing from outside. It is especially beautiful at night when it is lit.

Tips to go World Expo:
1. Go during wet days, weekdays (tues to fridays)
2. Take taxi direct to Pudong Chang Qing Road, taxi fare around RMB24, from Huai Hai Road
can also take MRT line 9 to Ma Dang Road station, and there is special compliementary direct bus service No 13 with your expo ticket in hand
3. Wear light attire (prepare light sweater just in case) and sports shoes as there are alot of walking
4. Travel light with one bottle of water (no enough can buy there, RMB 3 per bottle) and cash, dont bring food as there are more than enough choice for your apetite. Nice pizza at cafe opposite Italy Pavilion
5. Go after lunch as morning is too crowded with tour groups
6. Go in a group of 2-3, keep each other company and occupied during queue for pavilion and food. U need to "chop" seat physically not by using "tissue"
7. visit pavilion during meal time to avoid long queue
8. go home before 940 pm (expo close at 10pm) to avoid huge crowd at taxi line and MRT station

There were about 97% Chinese visitors and only 3% foreigners in the expo. And the Chinese know that they are the host this time and most of them have learned to queue. Restrooms are the only place where they dont follow the rule, pushing is common here, hope the expo authority could look into this as restroom is a critical place to show how civilise a destination/country is.

Also, the information for making reservation to see pavilion like China, Taiwan, Saudi etc are not clear and comfusing..... visitors are also not allowed to go into the pavilions even when it is empty, which to us is a waste of golden opportunity to the country and defeat the purpose of wanting to showcase themselves to attract as many visitors as possible and create word of mouth for their country and pacilion set-up.

For example the China Pavilion, it was quite empty when we were there at around 9 pm, but the guard said that we cant go in because we have not done reservation (the reservation tickets have already completely distributed and dont know where to make reservation also, too troublesome, u cant do it online also. Why cant they allow on-line reservation?).
So China missed the opportunity to let those wanted to see their best display and tell the world how good they are. Unlike Australia and NZ, they open their door wide when there isnt queue and send ushers at the entrance to broadcast to all visitors that they are all welcome and no queue is many just walk in graciously and enjoy the concert inside.....Just feel that Chinese way of doing things in China, Taiwan Pavilion etc is not the way to treat your guests from overseas who flew all the way here......and this is not the hospitality culture of Chinese also, ........why cant China and other pavilions do the same like Auz and NZ etc when the crowd is thin near to closing time and rainy days.....

This is really worth the Expo Bureau to think through seriously whether they should just be so rigid to follow all rules by the BOOK or be flexible and more forthcoming in their invitation..there is a critical learning process and improvements needed by the Expo Authority.

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