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Expo Village turns quiet

THE Expo Village was meant to be the perfect home to pavilion employees and officials. But after three months, it has become boring and inconvenient to some.

With a cultural gap between operators and residents, some have even chosen to move to serviced apartments in downtown areas for cheaper and better food, flexible transport schedules and an authentic Shanghai experience.

"It looks really dead. Everything is closed in the village - the restaurants, the pubs, the shops - because there are no customers. You don't see a lot of people anywhere," Marianna Drago, an Italian Pavilion employee, told Shanghai Daily.

Like Drago, many staff workers from foreign pavilions have found the venue dull and inconvenient.

"The facilities are actually quite nice, but there's something wrong with how it works," Drago said.

The Expo Village, a 10-minute drive to China Pavilion, contains 7,000 beds with a five-star hotel, more than 20 apartment buildings and three budget hotels.

The village contains Western restaurants, a hair saloon, medical clinic, sports center and many other facilities.

It even contains an entertainment area, re-designed and renovated from nine battered old factories, that contains bars, pubs, and dance halls, all designed for foreigners.

The attempt has failed. Foreigners living in the village have found some of the facilities and services strange - neither authentically Chinese nor Western.

Many also said the prices are too high. Plus these venues are also open for only a small period of time every day.

If one walks around the Expo Village during the day, it's hard to find anyone.

Senior officials from two pavilions have moved out to serviced apartments near Plaza 66 and Xintiandi. They don't wish to reveal the pavilion's name, but said they wanted a more authentic experience during their stay in Shanghai.

"The Expo Village and its surrounding areas are not really what Shanghai is like. I want to experience the flashy, authentic, local and cultural aspects of this metropolis," said one of the senior officials.

It was not always like this in the Expo Village, especially during the first month of Expo Shanghai, when the place had a carnival-like atmosphere. There were parties and people from 189 countries and 57 international organizations.

"It was a very vivid time in the Expo Village. I had a party to go to almost every evening. It was nice to meet people from all over the world," said Indre Kumpikeviciute, director of Lithuania Pavilion.

The parties have gradually disappeared and the Expo Village now is too quiet.


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