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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.

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No. The rail system is suppose to be open sometime next year, but we only saw a bit of construction for it by the new national museum.

We found that with the app 2GIS the bus system was really easy to use. You pay on the bus to a ticket person (who can make change)--not the driver. They will come around and find you. The bus was extremely inexpensive--90 tenge (or ~27 cents) for regular buses and a bit more (~1.20 T) for expresses.

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I'm planning on being in Astana for a week, and will try to go to the expo every day, even if it's just in the evening after sightseeing.  I'm staying in the 'old town' part of Astana north of the river. Did the older parts of the city or from the new monuments back to town look walkable to you? Also, how easy/fair were the taxis, if you took any. I'm planning on using a combination of both.

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Sorry for the delayed response. We did a significant amount of walking in Astana as the city is pretty spread out. I would not recommend walking from the older part of town to the fairgrounds due to the great distance and the expenditure of time and energy to do so (and busses are so convenient and inexpensive).  We did walk to the fair from our hotel just south of the monumental buildings on our first morning, which was along a relatively busy road, but there was a sidewalk and it was interesting. In the new part of town there is little shade, but many of the roads in the old town are treelined. Once we mastered the bus system we relied heavily upon it. We did take taxis to and from the airport. They seemed pretty easy to use. I think fares to the airport were between 2000/3000T to the newer part of town. Hope this is helpful. Enjoy your time at the Expo.

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Hi CofP33,

Did you notice if/where a gift shop was on site? Just with the aim of getting a passport early in my visit (assuming there are any!)

Tia

wf256

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Tia,

There were five or six small gift shops including right inside the entrances. Like Milan, there was not a lot of souvenirs to choose from. I assume that they had passports, but don't specifically recall seeing them. We did see stamping stations though. One of the items that they did have were various small magnet sets (Expo, Astana, and Baikonur). I had asked for one of Baikonur (my husband is a rocket scientist) and when we arrived back home I realized that they gave me the wrong set. Very disappointing.

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