The organizers for the Shanghai World Expo decided to do a trial run on the expo compound to see what possible improvements could be made before the actual May Day opening. The conclusion, “space, time and mindset” need fixing before the soon-approaching May 1 opening ceremony. Visitors complained that security was tight, lines were extremely long, and once people made it inside the compound they were disappointed with the number of open pavilions and the food. This leaves organizers with precious little time before some 70 million people descend on the city expecting 2008 Beijing Olympic-like theatrics and sights.
Pushing and crowding are already common in China (social traits that have become the dominant in China’s large cities because of the sheer number of people involved in any one event) so the massive lines full of foreigners and other new arrivals only made that competitive, anti-queuing trait more dominant. This is a massive problem for the organizers, who have erected cattle bar queuing lines around security and pavilion entrances. This is unlikely to do much except force more crowding. Nevertheless, it is part of the China experience, and visitors will come to realize that quickly during the expo. While many complained that they did not like the food, the expo organizers have tried to have foods from many cultures available, so perhaps the dislike of the food was mostly locals trying new things and not enjoying the new sensations. While Chinese cuisine can be diverse, most Chinese do not enjoy eating outside their traditional habits, and prefer to experience the range of tastes withing the Chinese repertoire.
With 70 million new faces in Shanghai, you can bet prices will sky rocket for food and hotels. But there are deals yet to be found. If you make your reservation 21 days in advance or more, Hilton gives you a discount. Marriott Hotels has a similar deal if you book before May 1st. Local hotels, like the Shanghai Metropole offer cheaper rates, but what you get in return may be less. You can also go local, and search for Shanghai hotels and try to get last minute deals on non-name brand joints.
Food prices are not only bound to be higher, but all the best restaurants will be packed and staff will be overworked and haggard. You can find amazing Chinese food nearly everywhere in Shanghai if you are willing to pop into any establishment on the street. Give everything a try, from food carts on the Bund to the fanciest eateries of Nanjing Road.