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3rd Expo Preview's the Charm

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An enthusiastic crowd, half the size of the first day's 200,000, gave rave reviews Friday of the World Expo in its third day of previews.

The visitors found a dozen newly built stalls selling breads and steamed buns at reasonable prices; a welcome lack of long queues at the entrances; a greater number of open pavilions; and better-informed volunteers who had a sufficient supply of guide maps, a dozen Shanghai Daily reporters found on the scene.

On top of that, music and performances returned to the Shanghai Expo site after a national period of mourning for the earthquake victims in Qinghai Province.

The Expo held its first parade, with floats and performers in exotic costumes snaking around the pavilions from Europe, America and Africa in Zone C.

But the guide maps, as well as site broadcast and information screens, were only in Chinese; garbage bins seemed insufficient with many visitors bringing their own food to the site; and long queues formed outside the most popular foreign pavilions.

Joanna Bayndrian, an attendant at the Australian Pavilion, said the signs were OK to her because she understands some Chinese, but "there are some translation problems."

Even some Chinese visitors wished the sign boards were clearer and more plentiful. A visitor surnamed Peng, 60, said she felt confused and had to keep asking volunteers how to find her way. And she suggested there be a bus route to reach all the pavilions at the site, not just the main roads.

Volunteers handed out tickets to the China Pavilion at several of the site's entrances, a much easier and faster method than queuing up in front of reservation machines.

"The volunteers handed us the reservation tickets one by one, and it was in good order," said Jiang Huan, who got a chance to tour the China Pavilion.

However, all 50,000 tickets to the extremely popular pavilion were gone by around 9:30am. That's as many visitors as the pavilion will admit each day.

Arriving visitors scattered to different entrances yesterday rather than cluster, as they did on the previous test runs, mostly at two: the No. 6 main entrance and the Metro Line 13, known as the Expo Special Line.

Among the 65 opened pavilions, Japan and Spain made their debuts yesterday and quickly became the most popular pavilions after China. Long queues circled the two pavilions, both 6,000 square meters. Pavilion staffers told visitors they might need to wait three to five hours to get in.

The Saudi Arabia Pavilion still attracted big crowds with its exotic ship-like shape and a movie on the world's largest IMAX theater.

Outside the Australian Pavilion, the in-house Sand Bar Band made its debut, winning big rounds of applause. A Tibetan tourist, on a business trip to Shanghai, said she enjoyed the combination of exhibition and performance.

A dozen new stalls sold breads (10 yuan for three) and steamed stuffed buns (5 yuan for three) with lower prices than restaurants within the site, following complaints about food prices during the previous two test runs.

The site will receive 300,000 visitors today for the fourth test run. About 500,000 are expected on Sunday. The final preview will be Monday.

(Shanghai Daily April 24, 2010)


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