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Expo 2017 Report We had a great time at the expo. We were in Astana for five full days and spent three at the expo shortly after it opened. It was not very crowded and were able to visit all of the pavilions during those days. (We had budget our last day to return if we felt necessary, but used it instead to explore the city itself. We were able to walk right in to most of the exhibit spaces, with only short lines at the Kazakhstan, China, Israeli and Korean pavilions (the line at the Korean exhibit was ~30 minutes or more at times, but we came back when the wait was significantly shorter). Being a minor expo and limited to 60 acres in size, the fairgrounds is easy to navigate. The LED sphere Kazakhstan Pavilion (reminiscent of the iconic structures of the NYWFs and EPCOT) brought some interest to the otherwise rather dull, but efficiently designed fairgrounds. In general the exhibits were relatively uninspiring (there are only so many ways to highlight forms of wind and solar power). VR technologies, dance performances, and stories of children receiving advice from grandparents (ala UAE’s 2015 exhibit in Milan) were popular. A couple of the better of these were Croatia (VR of Tesla’s Lab) and Korea (combination of a well done animated / live story performance). Austria’s colorful “power machine”—a human-powered kinetic sculpture, was one of the other popular exhibits. As in recent expos, the US pavilion in Astana was another lost opportunity to wow the world. Similar to Milan, there were no real amusement exhibits as at past fairs. (If you want to be a human hamster, go into the Shell Pavilion.) We did attend two evening events—a classical concert of Beatles music and the Cirque du Soleil performance. Tickets were inexpensive and the events were enjoyable ways to end long days at the fairgrounds. We stayed at the Hotel 7 Palat. It is in a convenient location between the Expo grounds to the south and the new axis of modern buildings to the north. It was fine for us as we just really needed a place to sleep and clean up, but I wouldn’t classify it as a hotel—more a hostel with private rooms and baths (no cleaning of the room or changing of bedding while we were there). Breakfast (eggs, sausage, bread, chocolate and cookies) was served to us at a specified time in our room. There was no air conditioning, but Astana did cool off in the evenings. **One of the best tips I can provide is to use the Double GIS (2GIS) app to navigate the city, which downloads the data so it works off-line and provides bus route information between any two points. Unless you can understand the place names in Cyrillic, the best way to use the map is to scroll to find where you want to go and drop a pin. We were able to go all over the city (there is much of interest to see beyond the fairgrounds) with ease thanks to the app. We walked to the expo site our first morning, which was a long, but interesting walk (Unfortunately, since it became the capital city of Kazakhstan, Astana has been designed much like Brasilia—for automobiles and not pedestrians.) We were told about the 2GIS app at one of the information desks at the Expo and then relied upon buses (and our feet) to go everywhere. There is also a bike sharing program (http://astanatimes.com/2017/06/how-to-use-astanas-rental-bikes/), which we didn’t use, but saw the bike stands throughout the city and there were expo workers using the bicycles to reach the fairgrounds.
I worked with Deimos Imaging to obtain this satellite imagery of the Expo site taken on June 16. Orbital imagery in both Google Earth and Google Maps is dated September 28, 2016, and I wanted to see the site now that it is completed. Photo copyright Deimos Imaging.
Was online trying to get a better idea of what the upcoming Expo 2017 in Astana, Kazakhstan really looks like-- since it opens in only 63 days, and virtually all of the photos on the official Expo website are still artists conceptions. And while some of the recent pavilion photos are actually pretty interesting-- I did come across this article about a construction collapse at the site back in November of last year. Apparently a decorative bridge between two buildings fell, and thankfully, no one was injured. Here it is before... And here it is after... And finally, here's an article with a few more details. EXPO 2017 CONSTRUCTION COLLAPSE