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January 19, 2010

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Shaping into a major spectacle

YOU may be too impatient to wait another 100 days to see the magnificent World Expo 2010. With more than 90 percent of construction work on the site finished, we have been able to get a rough idea of the scene and its progress to describe what it will look after the opening on May 1.

Although the organizer deters access to the construction site, people can get a bird's-eye view of the Asian section from Nanpu Bridge and the European and American sections from the Lupu Bridge. Both sections are in Pudong.

Taking a boat along the Huangpu River, it's possible to see the five main Expo icons - China Pavilion, Theme Pavilion, Expo Center, Performance Center and the Expo Boulevard.

So what does the Expo site look like now? Is everything ready for the opening?

More than 70 percent of construction has been done on about 100 foreign pavilions.

The 42 stand-alone pavilions built by participants have taken shape. The pavilions look smaller than artist's original impressions but are as beautiful as the artwork depicts.

All the parks and green areas, accounting for 30 percent of the 5.28-square-kilometer Expo site, will be established by the end of January. Looking across the site, the parks appear to be a series of green ribbons laid out along the Huangpu River.

Iron pylons roughly divide the main eastern entrance in Pudong into a dozen gate areas where ticket machines similar to those in the city's Metro stations will be installed. White umbrellas will provide shade for visitors waiting at the entrances.

There will be eight such entrances on both sides of the Huangpu River and all will be complete by March 10, the same time as the parking area which will provide 6,000 spaces for tour buses.

The most complete structures on site should be the five permanent buildings: China Pavilion, Theme Pavilion, Expo Center, Performance Center and the Expo Boulevard.

Visitors will first be attracted by the iconic China Pavilion, a magnificent structure draped in red cloth. The 63-meter structure that is three times the height of all other buildings on site can be seen from all vantage points.

External work on the China Pavilion has been completed and the organizer will test the lighting system from time to time.

So if you take a drive on Nanpu Bridge after 6pm, and if you are lucky enough, you will be among the first to witness the extremely beautiful night view of the China Pavilion.

The silver joint-provincial pavilion around the China Pavilion, where the country's 31 municipalities and provinces will present their exhibitions, resembles a huge "Crown of the East."

The 24 Chinese traditional solar terms have been carved on the outside wall in zuan, the seal style of calligraphy from China's Qin Dynasty (221-207 BC).

The seashell structure of the Performance Center along the Huangpu River has been finished. Construction workers are installing lights on the facade to make it more beautiful at night.

The Expo Center is the first of the iconic structures to have its facade and outfitting complete. The 400-meter-long rectangle structure along the river is the longest structure on the waterway.

The Expo Boulevard looks like a jade belt on the site with six "Sunny Valleys" resembling flowers. The boulevard, which will be the main underground entrance linking Metro Line 13 (known as the Expo Line), can be seen from both the Huangpu River and Hongshan Road in Pudong north of the Expo site.

The 42 stand-alone pavilions are generally true to their artists' renditions.

People walking toward the China Pavilion after accessing the main entrance will see the Israel Pavilion which resembles a blue and white seashell. The Japan Pavilion is draped in purple cloth and looks like an ellipse balloon on the ground.

Two distinctive structures are the Pakistan and Oman pavilions, both inspired by the countries' famous historic structures.

The Saudi Arabia Pavilion is still wrapped in steel beams but has taken the shape of a huge boat.

The Germany Pavilion is wrapped in steel plates, forming three "floating" structures for the "Balancity" concept.

The facade of the Australia Pavilion looks like it's rusting but it has used a special kind of steel which will change color in response to the temperature and humidity of Shanghai during the 184-day event.

The papercut style of Poland has been shaped while the 15 "trees" have been erected for the Norway Pavilion.

Another 42 rented pavilions and 11 joint pavilions have been completed. The organizer is waiting for participants to take possession and start outfitting.

If you really can't wait to see these pavilions, wait another two months until Expo has three trial operations in April.

The site will open to 100,000, 200,000 and 400,000 visitors on a scaled preview basis. So just cross fingers and hope you will be among them.


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