SHANGHAI - THE Expo 2010 Shanghai is not just the talk of the town at the moment, it's the talk of the world right now at this point in time when I'm writing this very article.
Since the star-studded opening ceremony and the breath-taking fireworks on April 30, the Shanghai Expo has captivated the eyes and attention of audience in the world, waiting to soak in the carnival-like atmosphere.
With the Chinese government bent on presenting a spectacular and complete exhibition of the world, with rumours spreading that some countries were paid large sums by the Chinese government just to provide content for their pavilions, the current edition of World Expo attracted a record participating countries of 189.
192 countries were slated to participate originally, but Bhutan, Kuwait and Burkina Faso had quietly withdrawn due to unspecified difficulties at home.
As a close trade partner of China, Brunei has confirmed it's participation at the Shanghai Expo way back in 2005, and the Brunei Pavilion certainly did not disappoint it's visitors.
Theme of the Pavilion
The theme of "Now...for the Future" for the Brunei Pavilion reflects the Sultanate's commitment to meet not only the immediate needs of its people, but even more importantly, the long term aspirations of its young people and future generations, in accordance to the National Vision 2035.
Upon entering the Pavilion, visitors will be provided with picture and text introduction of the historical ties between China and Brunei, dating back to the 6th century. In Chinese historical writings, Brunei was known as Po-li, Po-lo or Po-ni and later as "Bun-lai".
Walking further into the Pavilion, visitors will walk right into the area of the Department of Economic Planning and Development (JPKE), where they will be shown with videos on several TV screens presenting the different stages of the development of Brunei, from the "Discovery of Oil and Gas", "Pre-Independence", "Post-Independence" to the current "Now for the Future".
Right after JPKE, visitors will then arrive at the most attractive booth, the Royal Brunei Airlines (RBA) booth, as they can participate in a lucky draw where RBA will give out a free air ticket every month.
During peak hours, you might not even be able to catch a glimpse of the booth, as it will be crowded out by people eager to fill in the entry forms. For those interested in participating in the lucky draw, if you don't know the answer, just ask yourself what is the alphabet after "A". You know what I meant, don't you?
After the RBA booth comes the "Brunei in Pictures" area, prepared by the Brunei Tourism Board, where visitors are given a treat to the sights and colours of Brunei.
After the pictures comes the movie, a 3-minute short movie in the specially built Brunei Pavilion mini-theatre where visitors can sit comfortably and experience the Brunei rainforest, beginning with a boat ride from Bandar Seri Begawan to Bangar, Temburong, and then to Kuala Belalong Field Study Centre. The film also gave a a feel of what the famous rainforest canopy walk is like to it's viewers.
One general complaint that visitors has of the mini-theatre though, is that it is too mini (the theatre is a 10-seater), and that the showing hours are too short. The mini-theatre is only open for one and a half hours per day, from 11-11.30am, 2-2.30pm, and 6-6.30pm daily.
After the mini-theatre, the visitors will come right up to the area where JPKE presents the major posters showing the various developments in Brunei, both on infrastructure and on security of the Sultanate.
Walking on, and usually not alone, considering the crowd in the Pavilion, visitors will then come up to an area by the Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB), where you will see their eyes open up in awe as they see the blueprint of the Pulau Muara Besar, the area where Brunei's new port is to be built.
The BEDB area, together with the mega poster of the landmark of Brunei, are easily the most photographed area in the Pavilion, both due to their spectacular size, and the grandeur of the look of them.
After some intensive photo-shots, the visitors are nearing the end of their Pavilion tour, and might be a little tired, and maybe hungry.
This will be where they will find respite when they come right up to the Royal Brunei Catering counter, selling the delicacies of Brunei, and also various drinks. The most famous of them all, is of course the Teh Tarik, which many visitors gave the thumbs-up.
Besides the various areas, visitors looking for more history and culture can easily find various display areas around the Pavilion that display ancient artifacts, specially flown-in to Shanghai from the Brunei Museum and Royal Regalia.
There are also plenty of TV screens introducing the multiple facets of Brunei for visitors who are there for more details.
Simple business rule
After going round the Pavilion, it is no wonder why many visitors rated the Brunei Pavilion highly, even when compared to other bigger pavilions in the Shanghai Expo area.
The trick is no rocket science, but just a mere simple business rule. Provide what the customers want, and you can keep them happy easily.
Despite being much smaller than many pavilions, the Brunei Pavilion gave the visitors exactly what they wanted, in various forms, shapes and sizes, and even decibels, and in return, the Pavilion staff gets the rave reviews that they worked so hard for.
-The Brunei Times