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About blueexpo

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    Dallas, TX, USA

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  1. I needed 2 passport books for my stamps .. 1 was not enough ... They were selling them for 2200 KZT (325 KZT approx 1 USD) at the souvenir shop just near the main entrance.
  2. I have been to 5 BIE Expos so far. 

  3. Guys, don't miss it .. it was worth the trip ...
  4. Turns out there were 2 nice hotels just on the outer edge of the Expo site. I think one was a Hilton.
  5. Lines are not going to be an issue for the most part, other than a very few exceptions. The solar ride on the 6th floor of the sphere is about a 30 minute wait. The Korean pavilion had a wait too .. maybe around that amount of time. Other than that most places you are able to just walk in, or within 5 to 10 minutes tops. Security lines at the entrance of the expo are quick too .. over in a few minutes. The lines are not insane like at the Shanghai Expo (where some people had to wait 4 hours to get in the China pavilion, that is if you are lucky enough to get a ticket for it first thing in the morning .. compare that with only 5 minutes to get in the KZ pavilion at the Expo; or the 9 hour line for the Saudi Arabia pavilion at the Shanghai Expo; or the 8 hour aquarium line at the Yeosu Expo). way of the future: I would increase the number of days from 3 to 4, rather than downgrade it from 3 to 2. Keep it at 3 .. don't lower it, otherwise you will miss out on some good stuff.
  6. I will answer my one question now that I have been to Astana. I did not see even one dog, stray or leashed while I was in Astana during that entire week. I saw one stray cat under a bridge. The only time I saw a dog was the K9 units the military police had on a leash at the Expo grounds. The streets are safe. This ain't no Thailand or Taiwan.
  7. I appreciate the response wf256. Although, the available options weren't anything to write home about, it wasn't all that bad. They had caprese sandwiches with pesto sauce, cheese mushroom fries, an Afghan restaurant with rice and vegan kabobs. If you include the Mega Silkway mall in front of the Expo as part of the Expo, then you had vegetarian pizza, egg-less noodles, and a Korea House which had a vegetarian set. Not at the Expo site, but in the city of Astana, there is a pure vegetarian restaurant called 108m2 .. I tried their Russian borscht and Kazakh manti .. 2 dishes I would not have had a chance to otherwise.
  8. Expo Trip Report ________________ I deeply apologize for not submitting this trip report earlier. I spent a few hours in Almaty, a day in Kyrgyzstan, a day touring Astana, and 6 days at the Expo. Finnair is the only airlines I know of that serves blueberry juice as a drink option. I chose to make a side trip to Kyrgyzstan, because it was the only other stan country which did not require USA tourists on a short stay to have a visa. I saw the Osh Bazaar, Al-Archa mountains, and the monuments and Soviet era buildings of the city. I felt Astana to be a very safe city. You don't have to worry about crime, Islamic terrorism, and stray dogs/cats. During my entire week in Astana, I did not see any dogs at all, with or without a leash; I only saw 1 stray cat under a bridge. The exception was the K9 dogs held on a leash by the military police at the Expo grounds. The only aspect of safety I cannot comment on is taxi drivers and the nightlife, for which I had minimal exposure to in Astana (though you have to be very careful with the taxi drivers in Almaty, even if you catch one from the authorized airport taxi stand). Astana International Airport has 2 terminals. One is newer and modern. The bathrooms there are clean, modern, and big. Getting through customs took only 10 minutes. The sun is already up, even at 4:45 AM. Avoid people approaching you for a taxi at the airport. You can take bus #10 from the bus stop, located across the street from the older terminal to the city center. It only costs 90 KZT (325 KZT is 1 USD approx). The city gets windy at times, and can be on the chilly side in the dawn hours, but can also be hot during mid-day hours. The sun doesn't set before 10 PM. The bus #10 can also take you from the city center to the Expo site for 90 KZT. The bus system is a little different than what it is like in the US. You just get on and the conductor will eventually come to you for payment. She will also provide a ticket to you (unless they run out of paper). During your bus trip, sometimes people will want to practice their English with you. Even though it's a Muslim country, a lot of Kazakh women here are dressed like East Asian women in western or East Asian countries. There are a lot of futuristic looking buildings in Astana. Don't miss out taking photos of them. I went to see the National Museum, the Khan Shatyr shopping mall, and Hazrat Sultan mosque while I was there. They let you sleep in the mosque if you wish. If you draw a line that connects the Khan Shatyr shopping mall, the Kaz Munay Gas and Oil building, and the Bayterek, you should walk along that line at night time. You will see the fantastic lighted buildings with LED display lights. It's like Times Square, Las Vegas Strip, and Dubai all rolled into one. There's also an excellent pure vegetarian (AKA lacto-vegetarian in Western countries) restaurant called 108m2. I got a chance to try Russian borscht and Kazakh manti there, which I would not have had a chance otherwise. If you are short on time, you can skip going up to the Bayterk, because you can also get an excellent view of Astana from the top of the sphere at the Expo, without paying anything additional. You can take bus #10 from the city center to the Expo site. Directly in front of the Expo site is the Mega Silkway mall and directly across the street from that is Nazarbayev University (the bus stop is in front of there). I always made sure to get back to the bus stop before Midnight, because though I have heard that Astana has night buses (meaning those running from Midnight to 5 AM), the information on that was not clear (even the Info Desk at the Expo and the info desk at the Mega Silkway was not clear about it). I recommend spending 1 hour at Nazarbayev University and 2 hours at Mega Silkway mall (1 hour for looking around and 1 hour for lunch). The bus to the Expo stops right in front of NU. Ask the guard if you can get a campus tour. A volunteer will give you a 1 hour tour of the place. An Expo volunteer told me that it's the only university in Kazakhstan where there is no corruption and people get admission their based on merit. It is also the best university in the country. The university is only a few years old. The Mega Silkway mall is a very grand and elegant mall. There are many lacto-vegetarian options here (pizza, egg-less noodles, and Korean vegetable set for example). The mall has a food court and also some high-end classy restaurants as well. The prices here are cheaper than in the States. The mall also has a grocery store. It also has an electronics store - so if you forgot to bring your voltage converter and foreign plugs, or if you took a lot of photos and videos and your memory card is full, you can purchase it here. The mall also has a travel center and an information desk (though I found it was useless for answering my questions about the night buses). If you didn't buy your Expo tickets in advance, there is also an Expo center inside the mall in which you can buy your tickets. There is what you would call a pre-Korea pavilion inside the mall. The mall is listed on the Expo map, and while it may or may not technically be part of the Expo site, since it's just across from it, you can effectively think of it as part of the Expo site. There are 2 hotels just steps away from the Expo site. I think one was a Hilton. If you have already bought your ticket (I bought mine online from the US), you don't need to show your passport or ID card when you go to security. Just show them your ticket. The security line is fairly quick. There are several entrance and exit points to the Expo, but the main one is just in front of the Mega Silkway mall. Once you enter, you will see the Sphere in front of you. Be sure to take a photo with the Sphere behind you. Then go to the Information Desk on your left and pick up a schedule for today's events. Then go to the souvenir shop. You can buy an Expo passport book (which you will use to get your stamps from the different pavilions) for 2200 KZT (325 KZT equals 1 USD approx). They also sell the best kind of honey in Kazakhstan there. The souvenir shop also had Polo shirts with the Expo log, key chains, notebooks with Expo design, Kazakh hats and more. Next thing you want to do is visit the Sphere. Allocate about an hour for each of the 7 levels of the Sphere. The first level is the Kazakh pavilion (took only about 5 minutes to get in; I remember at the Shanghai Expo, people waited for 4 hours to get in the China pavilion, and that's if you were lucky enough to even get a ticket in the morning when it opened). Levels 2 to 6 are for different aspects of energy. Level 7 is where you can get a panoramic view of Astana. There's a glass floor too. The line to the solar ride on the 6th floor was about 30 minutes long; that was one of the longer lines. Overall lines at the Expo were not that long. 5 min, 10 min, or 15 min at max. A few exceptions were like the Korea pavilion. After you have finished your tour of the 1st level, take the glass Buck Rogers 25th century-like flashing light elevators to the 7th floor (maybe 5 minute wait) and walk your way down to see what's on the 6th, 5th, 4th, 3rd, and 2nd floors in that order. They will not allow you to take the elevator from the 7th floor to any other floor besides the 2nd, unless you have some medical condition. Do not, I repeat absolutely do not miss the Cirque du Soleil Reflekt show that's on there. I have seen Cirque du Soleil shows before, but this is like on a whole different level. Photos and videos of the show are not allowed. There's an extra cost beyond the Expo admission to see the show. It's worth watching. Thoughts on pavilions. Thai pavilion offered free massages. They were very enthusiastic, but I was not impressed by their pavilion. Israel, Japan, Turkey, UAE, and South Korea had great pavilions. The Shanghai week cultural event in the auditorium was fantastic. India pavilion had lots of souvenirs on sale. They also had some snacks such as samosas and pakoras (similar to Malaysia pavilion). India pavilion had a restaurant, but closed down. Turkey pavilion had a nice heat sensor exhibit - you don't want to miss that. Uzbek pavilion had a restaurant (again you would miss it if you didn't explore the upstairs). Some of the pavilions did have a restaurant upstairs. Vietnam had some good drink offerings at their pavilion, plus a photo send option. There are a lot of classy full-service restaurants at the Expo. One Italian place had a nice dish of beet root with goat cheese. Delicious! Also an Afghan place with biriyani rice and potato curry with Afghan bread. Some lacto-vegetarian options at the Expo were caprese sandwiches, cheese mushroom fries, among others. One thing you might not immediately realize is that some of the pavilions have things going on the 2nd and 3rd floors - such as their restaurants and other things are located there. Expect people will ask to take photos with you, if you look like a foreigner. Also expect that some Expo volunteers will want to tag along with you in their free time to practice their English. If they hear you speak English or you look like a foreigner, sometimes the volunteers will go out of their way to give you a guided tour of their pavilion, or their section (which is a great thing!) Each day is somebody's national day. Around 9 PM or so, there is a parade which starts near the US pavilion, and goes around the Expo site. The parade has people dressed up in avant-garde style. Awesome! I loved walking the parade length with them. Around 11 PM or so, the Sphere lights up with a fascinating light show. Think of it as the 3-D version of Korea's Big-O show. Along with a fire and light show in the fountains next to it. Getting there 10 or 15 minutes before the show is good enough to get a good seat. Some nights there will be a dance party. Almost like a night club in the Expo grounds in a way. The dance party location is near the Sphere and Cirque du Soleil area. There is a very high chance I forgot some things to talk about and will come back later to add to my trip report.
  9. I would be interested to know what the lacto-vegetarian (terminology used in the Western world) / pure vegetarian (terminology used in the Eastern world) options at the 2017 International Expo are?
  10. Just wondering what is the current situation with respect to stray dogs in Astana. I hope it's not as bad as what it is like in Taiwan or Phuket - there were places where you couldn't walk there and had to take transportation if you didn't want to get bitten by the packs.
  11. If you have gone to the 2017 Astana International Expo, do the pavilions have stamps that they stamp on your "passport"? It has been a tradition as far as I know, at least it happened at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo and the 2012 Yeosu International Expo. They were clueless about it at the 2015 Milan Expo (Japan pavilion was an exception) and at the 2016 Antalya Expo. I hope the souvenir shop at the 2017 Astana International Expo has passport books you can buy that you can go around the pavilions to get your stamp in after you have gone through the exhibit. I hope that tradition didn't die out with Yeosu.
  12. I was at the 2015 Milan World Expo from May 1 to May 6. That would be the 1st week. I guess I was lucky then. For the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, I went on R May 6, F May 7, and A May 8 - and the lines were much longer than Milan (the line for the China pavilion was horrendous, that's if you were lucky enough to get one of the few tickets to go there). Interestingly, even though the lines were quite long for the Shanghai Expo when I was there, I heard it got much worse later. In fact, there is a bar graph chart that I saw somewhere on the web which showed that the time I went to see the Shanghai Expo didn't have as much long lines. I can't imagine how much worse it would have gotten later. I avoided the Saudi Arabia pavilion there, because I heard the lines were like 8 or 9 hours something like that. Interestingly, I have heard that pavilion is one of the better ones at the Astana Expo. For the 2012 Yeosu International Expo, I went towards the very end. The line for getting into the aquarium, I have heard was like 8 hours.
  13. Would be nice to hear from those who are attending the 2017 Astana Expo, what kind of waiting times they are experiencing. There were long lines for 2010 Shanghai Expo and 2012 Yeosu Expo. No more than 15 minutes for any line at 2015 Milan Expo (UAE was the exception with around 20 to 30 minutes), and 2016 Antalya Expo didn't have any lines (other than for the Turkcell tower which took about 20 or so minutes).
  14. Joey, to partially answer your question, according to this website tickets can be bought at various ticket offices around the city, though it doesn't answer your question about whether you can buy the tickets at the gate itself. I know for Expo 2016 Antalya, I was able to buy the ticket at the gate - even got 50 percent off because some mobile phone company was doing a promotion, which I didn't know about until at the gate. The only passes that I am aware of are good for 1 day and according to the previous website a pass which you can use for all the special days (for example, June 10, July 6, etc). There is a rumor that there is an unlimited pass - whether that is a true rumor or a false rumor, I don't know. According to this website, you need at least 4 days to see all the Expo Pavilions I am posting this for the benefit of those who may want an expert opinion on how many days to spend at the Expo. I am doing 6 days.
  15. I will definitely be going. There is no way in the world that I would miss a World Expo or an International Expo. With that being said, I have bought Expo tickets for 6 days (July 1 to July 6). I also bought an additional ticket for the Cirque du Soleil Reflekt show that is part of the Expo. I am going to spend the prior day exploring Astana. The day before that will be for exploring Bishkek (in neighboring Kyrgyzstan) - no visa for Kyrgyzstan required for American tourists if staying 60 or less number of days. Round trip plane ticket from DFW to Astana was USD 1013.79 (with an additional USD 63.36 for travel insurance). Round trip plane ticket from Astana to Bishkek was USD 169.56 (with an additional USD 21.88 for travel insurance). A combined trip visiting all the Stan countries along with Russia while visiting the Expo would have been the ultimate dream, but limitations of vacation time as well as money in the bank, make that unrealistic for my situation. However, I am very happy with what I will be fortunate enough to experience. I am especially happy that I could make one of the days, July 6, the National Capital Day of Astana, as part of my Expo visit. Also, July 4th will be a good day to show up at the US pavilion and support my country. Can't wait. I do plan on submitting a trip report after my visit.