The world expo in Shanghai, with more than 200 participating countries showcasing their latest
innovations and technologies, is expected to draw some 70 million visitors, making it one of the most anticipated events of the year. CHOW HOW BAN reports
A BEVY of eight women who were able to flash smiles while holding chopsticks in their mouths made headlines in some Chinese media recently.
Selected from Shandong University, Shandong Normal University and Shandong University of Arts, they went through their first day of training in etiquette in the Shandong capital of Jinan before heading for the World Expo in Shanghai.
The tough training required them to hold the chopsticks in their mouths and yet maintain a sweet smile.
And if that was not tough enough, the trainer also placed a book on their head to ensure they were in great shape when greeting and serving visitors at the Shandong Pavilion during the Expo period.
With the Expo starting on May 1, staff and volunteers at some 100 pavilions had started their training in ushering, translation and other major services.
For such a grand event which is set to draw 70 million visitors, the city will have 77,000 volunteers, comprising mainly students from higher institutions to be stationed at the 5.28sq km expo park while another 130,000 will be spread out in the city to help visitors.
The expo is one of the most anticipated events of the year with more than 200 countries and international organisations showcasing their latest innovations and technologies.
It will be held from May 1 to Oct 31 at the waterfront of the Huangpu River between the Lupu and Nanpu bridges.
Since the first expo in London in 1851, it has seen the popularisation of inventions like cars, locomotives and lifts.
According to Chinese science and technology minister Wan Gang, this time the expo park will be mainly powered by solar energy to take advantage of hi-tech initiatives to create better city living.
The expo park would be the world’s largest adopter of solar energy, he said.
The solar energy power generators can reach a capacity of 4.6 megawatts and will be backed by 34 wind-power generating units in Donghai bridge.
The expo would also see the use of electric and hybrid cars within the park to meet the zero-emission targets, he added.
Technology and innovations aside, visitors can be assured of more interesting activities and events as well as surprises at the expo.
The renowned Little Mermaid, which left Copenhagen three weeks ago, is scheduled to arrive in Shanghai next week for display at the Danish pavilion.
While the Swiss pavilion may get tennis superstar Roger Federer for a brief appearance during the expo, Japanese pop star Noriko Sakai is said to have been engaged for an expo publicity campaign next month.
Visitors can also catch more than 20,000 performances at the Entertainment Hall, Baosteel Stage, Expo Centre and other outdoor venues within the park.
These include acts from Cirque du Soleil, tango performances by Argentinian dancers, Bolivian costume parade, performance by Soweto Gospel Choir, Bollywood dances and Shaolin stunts.
So far, more than 22 million tickets had been sold.
Those keen on making a trip to Shanghai can still buy tickets at the branches of Bank of Communications, China Post, China Telekom and China Mobile in China.
Overseas buyers can contact the hotline 86-21-962010 or visit http://en.expo2010.cn/ for a list of authorised ticketing agents around the world.
Tickets are priced between 90 yuan and 900 yuan.
The city is ready to welcome visitors to the expo with five metro (subway) lines and more than 90 bus routes cutting through the expo area and another 42 bus routes running within 2.4km of the area.
*The writer is a Malaysian newspaper columnist based in Beijing