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China Opens Doors to World Expo, Visitors Face Long Lines

Hundreds of thousands of Chinese have come out to get a first look at Shanghai's multi-million dollar World Expo after it opened its doors to the public on Saturday. Lines outside some of the more popular pavilions were extremely long, and there were occasional angry exchanges about line cutting. Most visitors, however, say they were impressed with the pavilions they were able to see.

World Expo organizers say that by mid-day Sunday nearly 400,000 people have already come out to visit the site and its more than 200 pavilions.

Expo organizers say some of the more popular pavilions such as the Swiss and French pavilion had more than 7000 people, on average, waiting in line to get a glimpse inside.

Buses were packed in many cases and sometimes a little pushing and shoving was required to get off at stops. But on a whole - aside from areas outside of the popular pavilions - there was plenty of room to wonder around or find a place to sit and rest in the shade.

The massive five kilometer site straddles Shanghai's Huangpu River and expo buses and ferries help visitors get from one side of the site to the other.

One 25-year-old software developer whose family name is Wang says he was impressed with what he saw in the Future Pavilion - one of the five theme pavilions at the World Expo.

Wang says that after seeing the exhibit he felt full of hope for the future. He says that there were many things in the exhibit that you do not usually see. Wang says the ideas put forth in the exhibit were really great, such as low-carbon economy and the many ideas about construction.

Mr. Zhang, a 21-year-old university student says he waited three hours to get into Britain's Seed Cathedral pavilion - a massive porcupine-like structure that encourages visitors to reflect on the connection the role of nature and city life.

Zhang says by noon on Saturday, he had only visited the Swiss and British pavilion.

Zhang says the British pavilion was awe-inspiring and that each of the thousands of crystalline rods that make up the structure have a seed at their end inside the pavilion. He says the light that comes streaming into the pavilion is impressive.

Mr. Lu and Mrs. Fan, a young couple who brought their nine-year old daughter to the expo disagree slightly about how long they had to wait. What is clear is that is was not short.

Fan says the wait was three hours and that the lines were incredibly long. Lu says three and half.

The couple, who live in Hangzhou, a city about two hours southwest of Shanghai, say they will have more opportunities in the future to come back and see more of the expo.

Lu says that overall he thinks the expo is well organized. He says there may have been too many people on the first day, and because of that lines were a bit long.

Events on Saturday continued well into the evening, with people still lining up at midnight to visit pavilions.

Expo organizers say more than 200,000 people visited the site on Saturday. Before the event wraps up in late October organizers expect that more than 70 million will come to visit and that the large majority of visitors will be Chinese.

Many visitors came prepared carrying foldable stools and umbrellas to beat the heat from the sun.

Mr. Wei, a 35-year-old cosmetics salesman from Anhui says he and his mother and brother started out early in the morning and made it into several sites. He says he was enjoying the science and technology aspects of some of China's pavilions and the South Korea pavilion. But after more than half a day of walking only had one thought.

Wei says he is tired, adding that there is really no way to see everything in one day. He too, plans to return again.

China says it has spent more than $4 billion on the World Expo, double what it spent on the 2008 Beijing Olympics. It is the most expensive Expo ever and local media reports put its overall cost, including upgrades to the Shanghai's infrastructure at more than $40 billion.