Welcome back one and all to the July edition of Fact or Fiction. Those of you who read any or all of the last seven will know, every edition I will have a guest and we will discuss a few of the big issues in China of the day. Every answer will have a “Fact” or a “Fiction” and some justification to go along with it.

My guest today is Katherine, better known around here as Baoru.  You can read her work on CNReviews where she posts a great deal about life in the Middle Kingdom.  Quite recently her informative posts on the Shanghai Expo have received a great deal of web traffic, and for obvious reasons.  She also writes a blog in Expotia, the Official Hotel Reservation Service Provider of Expo 2010.  If that wasn’t enough, depending on your perspective, she is either lucky or brave enough to be a volunteer at the World Expo in Shanghai.

Looking at my guests resume, the topic seems rather obvious to me.  We will be talking about the biggest event to currently be underway in China, the Shanghai Expo.  We will be tackling issues like lines, toilets, and our favourite pavilions, so join us for Fact or Fiction 8:  Hey Ho, Expo!

Fact or Fiction

1.  The lines are far too long at the Shanghai Expo.


This is by far the biggest complaint that I’ve heard so far from people about the Expo.  However, most of what I’ve noticed is that most of the griping is from people who haven’t even been to the Expo!  Most of the lines there really aren’t that bad.  Sure the German, Korean, and American Pavilions have terrifying long lines, but there are plenty of other ones that don’t have it that bad.  I think that you just need to be smart about which ones you choose and it won’t be too bad.

Katherine: FICTION

Everyone is really making exaggerated remarks on that one. [I am sometimes guilty of this too!] And the old ladies and grand pops bringing in the colorful, foldable chairs are not helping. I bet the distributor of those chairs is making a killing at this point in time! I may be biased because I get fast pass access to a few pavilions (due to my status as a volunteer), but I also waited for a friend while I was inside the Expo Garden already. And when I visit the Expo with someone else, I also need to line up. It was not that long a wait. Try the Urban Best Practices Area in Puxi and the corporate pavilions there also. Sometimes you do not even need to line up to get in.

They are off to a great start!  Looks like they are not in the mob of people that are upset with the mobs of people.  1 for 1.

2.  The UK Pavillion has the best design of the Pavilions.

Great Pavilion or Greatest Pavilion?

Glen: FACT

It’s certainly the weirdest one there! It looks like some sort of alien spore coming to take over the planet, and I for one like that in a building.  It is extra cool from the inside where you can see the light coming in through all of the plastic tubes.  I highly recommend it to anyone going to the Expo, lines or not.

Katherine: FICTION

The UK Pavilion looks cool definitely, but it is not the best in design for me. Even if it is a must-see pavilion. I agree with you though that it looks alien spore-ish. They got my vote for being innovative in design. But best design for me is the China Pavilion. It’s so Chinese and so unique at the same time. The inverted pyramid, strong red color, and grand staircase leading to the top got me.

Almost all the way in agreement, but not quite.  1 for 2.

3.  The Theme Pavilions are the best ones to visit.

Glen: FACT

I said this in my post a few months ago about the Expo and my mind certainly hasn’t changed since then.  I only went to the Urbanian Pavilion and the Pavilion of the Future, but they were both fantastic!  There is a lot of cool information in there presented in a very interesting fashion.  Sure you need to book times, but it’s so worth it and they are most certainly very different than all of the other pavilions that you find.

Katherine: FACT

If it were not for the fact that the Expo Garden is a bit far from our place, I could go back to the Theme Pavilions again and again and just stay there absorbing all the neat information inside. Everyone is talking about the country pavilions like how many pavilions they got into. Not so many are making it a point to check out the Theme Pavilions. There are 3 in Pudong side and 2 in Puxi, and all of them are worth the visit.

And we’re back on track…2 for 3.  Let’s switch it up to get more interesting.

4.  There are enough restaurants and toilets at the Expo.

Katherine: FACT.

Ask me again during the first few weeks of the Expo opening, and I would have given you a different answer. These days, I think everyone is able to use the washrooms without need of lining up (both squat and Western-style). Though the ayi’s have to work double time, because some people are just darn unhygienic when it comes to the toilets. But when you gotta go, you gotta go. Heh. About eating, avoid the known fast foods; and be adventurous when trying out what to eat! There are affordable eats inside the Expo Garden. ICS EXPO 360 host Steven Weathers shared his personal tips with CNReviews on international treats and coffee at the Expo.  You could check out his Expo videos in Expotia as well!

Glen: FACT

I never had huge problems going to the toilet, and surprisingly I rarely had to wait a long time for my girlfriend to use it!  The toilets are well spaced, clean, and plentiful, so you can’t really complain there.  Food can be a bit of a challenge, but if you are smart, then you either a) bought food, or b) ate in the pavilions.  There are little to no lines at the restaurants inside the pavilions, so if you time your visits around food then you’re fine.  Try the Sri Lanka and Nepal pavilions for the best food that I found.

Good, toilets are a mess thing to disagree over…3 for 4.

5. The Shanghai World Expo can be considered a success.

Katherine: FACT.

For me, the Shanghai World Expo is all about people understanding other cultures, especially for the local Chinese. If you cannot go out-of-the-country, the Expo is a good way to expose yourself to other cultures and traditions. And this is not just by visiting the different pavilions. I think interacting with the people involved is a good way to get glimpses also.

Glen: FACT

I completely agree with you on this one.  I think that this event is going a long way to building a bit of a world view for locals who have been closed off for a long time.  Sure it may be a little Disneyesque at points, but it certainly is better than nothing.  Also, the amount of money that is being brought in to the region is fantastic, and hopefully it will have a long term positive effect on tourism and international business in and around Shanghai.  Lastly, the physical improvements made to the city cannot be understated.  Sure, a year ago Shanghai looked like a war zone with all of the dust and cranes everywhere, but now it is sparkling and brand new.

Solid agreement here.  Anyone think that these two may be the same person?  4 for 5.

Oh crap…the rules have changed!

6.  SPECIAL NEW RULES FACT OR FICTION TOPIC:  List your 5 favourite Pavilions at the Expo.


  1. China Pavilion
  2. Urbanian Pavilion (one of the Theme Pavilions) – This pavilion follows the lives of 6 families from the different continents around the world. I like this, because you get to know and see for yourself how people live and work in their part of the world. And the exhibits are just awesome!
  3. Philippine Pavilion – Ok, I am biased here; because I am from the Philippines. Hehe. But seriously, our country is not that known in other parts of the world; and I think the pavilion gave justice showing what you can see in the Philippines. There is traditional massage and different genres of music and entertainment to suit your taste. If you want to know more about the Philippines, our pavilion guides are very knowledgeable (and they are the friendliest there is!).
  4. USA Pavilion – Not sure if many will agree with me here. But I like the USA Pavilion, because of the content (even if they are just movies). I am all for idealism and children as the hopes of the future, so the USA Pavilion gets my vote.
  5. Shanghai Corporate Pavilion – You can control the lights showing on the facade of the pavilion through group effort by the people inside. The message is simple and clear and geared towards the development of Shanghai. I mentioned my weakness for idealism, so with this pavilion–just how idealistic can you get? They might be pulling our leg with the lights control thing, but it still looks cool.

    (Note:  I only included Pavilions that I have been to so several big ones like Japan, Germany, and China are omitted.  Apologies all)

    1. Urbanian Pavilion –  When I try to explain it to people I can’t seem to do it justice.  Six Families from around the world are followed in all aspects of their lives and the result is pure awesome.
    2. UK Pavilion –  As I said earlier, it has a great design from the outside, and it is borderline surreal from the inside.  Well worth the wait.
    3. Australia Pavilion –  I love the layout and design of this one.  The movie at the end is so cool, even if it is all in Chinese (that is their national language, right?).  Maybe I give it extra credit because it was the first one that I went to and my two hilarious Aussie friends gave me the “guided tour”, but I still think that anyone would love it.
    4. USA Pavilion – I’m with Katherine on this one.  I know a lot of people didn’t like it, but I thought it was great.  The second movie is a little boring, but the first and third are great.  I think that it captured the idealism of the American spirit.
    5. Morocco Pavilion –  This one is very simple but very beautiful.  After seeing alien spores, giant apples, and other weird things, it is refreshing to see a pavilion built in traditional architecture for the country with simple facts and figures about it.  This pavilion serves as an actual exposition.

      I have no idea how to judge this one, but they had a few in common so let’s count that as partial agreement.  4.5 for 6, making this the most harmonious edition ever!

      For Katherine, I’m Glen, thanks for reading!  We hope that you all enjoy the Expo while you still can.  As always, we welcome comments/concerns/criticisms.  Let us have it 🙂


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        • Really? That’s too bad Sandy. It really is a strange, surreal experience! I would highly recommend it, no matter how many hoops you have to jump through to get the tickets, or people you have to push to get inside.

      2. I love this post about the Expo. I also found that the toilets and lines wern’t anything as bad as I had heard rumor of – but I saw 3 fights throughout the day between Chinese people. If you can brave a rowdy crowd, I think it’s worth it.

        • Fights??? That’s AWESOME!!!! Actually…probably more scary than anything. I saw some tempers get heated, and certainly felt my own blood pressure rising at times, but nothing that crazy.

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