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Wishful thinking at Expo

CHINESE visitors are turning some Expo attractions into places to make a wish.

The pond with the Little Mermaid statue at the Denmark Pavilion, the Buddha statues at the Nepal Pavilion and a model of a mountain at the Pakistan Pavilion have all become popular places for visitors to throw or leave coins.

Chinese visitors have labeled the pond with the Little Mermaid statue a wishing well.

Officials at the Denmark Pavilion said they believed that it was the statue that upgraded the normal pond into a wishing well for Chinese visitors.

Lene Winther, chief of communications at the pavilion, said she wants to set up a notice board around the pond encouraging people to make a wish and throw a coin.

"If every visitor throws 1 yuan into the pond, we can donate a huge amount of money to charity organizations," Winther said.

Meanwhile, employees at the Nepal Pavilion have found coins covering the bodies of Buddha statues on display.

The pavilion collects about 1,000 yuan (US$150) on average each day and donates all the money to charitable causes in Nepal.

Coins are also being found at a model of a mountain in the Pakistan Pavilion. Although it's just a regular mountain, many Chinese visitors believe it is holy.

Psychologist Gu Xiaoming said it was just old Chinese "fashion" to throw coins into ponds or at statues if someone else started "the game" first.

He said most Chinese people will make a wish when they throw a coin.

Gu said he felt relieved that people weren't throwing fruit or vegetables in tribute like they did in the old days.

In the Danish pavilion's basement toilet, people can see the pond's bottom. Coins are scattered around and even a jade bracelet can be seen.

Winther said they had not counted how much money had been thrown into the pond as cleaners have to retrieve the coins regularly or the water would get too dirty.

She said it was funny that some Chinese visitors threw coins because they believed there was a "living" mermaid in the pond. Some visitors often ask employees where they can see the exotic "creature."

"I point to the statue, but they then ask me whether the mermaid is swimming beneath the statue because they still can't see it," said Winther.


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