Er Audy Zandri, The Jakarta Post, Shanghai
The end of the World Expo 2010 Shanghai China marked a significantly brighter new beginning for Indonesia, which snatched an award at the event and realized tons of other goals.
Considered a must-visit pavilion for millions of visitors, the Indonesian Pavilion recorded a total of 8,150,230 visitors by the final day of the expo on Oct. 31, 2010, almost triple the initial target and overshooting the second estimation by a million.
It was this popularity that prompted Zou Ge, a spatial architect, to travel all the way from Beijing to Shanghai to visit the pavilion on Oct. 30. Captivated by its open concept, he and his spouse, Zhao Na, were surprised by the fact that he was the eight millionth person to visit the bamboo pavilion.
He had heard of all the world famous tourist destinations, including the Island of the Gods and the incomparable natural scenery it has to offer, but winning an all-expenses paid trip for two as a result of his curiosity was just too good to be true. The couple will also receive free accommodation at five-star Hotel Borobudur Jakarta and Kartika Plaza Hotel Bali sponsored by Artha Graha and two Jakarta-Denpasar roundtrip tickets from Garuda Airlines.
While the seven millionth visitor, Tang Hanhua who visited with his new wife Wu Wawa, was recorded at the beginning of October, the more than a million addition to the visitors’ record at the end of the month is nothing but extraordinary.
Due to this also, stated the expo committee, the Indonesian Pavilion placed fourth among the best five pavilions at the expo in terms of popularity and visitor numbers.
“With too many misperceptions about our country, Indonesia could be one of the least understood countries in the world. The time has come for us, Indonesians, to tell our story to the world, to let everybody know the real Indonesia,” said Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in a speech during his first and only visit to the Indonesian Pavilion on the morning of Oct. 26.
Together with First Lady Kristiani Herawati, the President was on a two-day trip to Shanghai for trade meetings and a business forum, during which he witnessed at least 27 signings of memorandums of understanding (MoU) between up to 60 Indonesian and Chinese companies in various industries ranging from mining, agriculture, fisheries, telecommunication, shipyard, financial services, manufacturing to 3D animation.
Various business forums were held by Indonesian ministries and different industry players at the Indonesian Pavilion, such as a business forum held by the Coordinating Economic Minister’s Office in May, a business forum by Mayora, an investment forum by the Indonesian Investment Coordinating Board and the Finance Ministry in June, a business forum by the Indonesian Embassy in China, the Indonesian Coffee Festival by the Agriculture Ministry in July and a business forum by Bintan Resort in August.
Business forums were also held by Gajah Tunggal, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry, Sinar Mas, the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry, the Communications and Information Technology Ministry, Artha Graha, West Kalimantan province and the Maspion Group in September, not to mention an investment forum by the Public Works Ministry at the end of the month.
Before the signing of all the MoUs on Oct. 25, different forums were also held by Mustika Ratu, BNI and the Industry Ministry, in addition to a Tropical Fruit Festival by the Agriculture Ministry in mid-October.
In addition to business goals, one undeniable achievement of the Indonesian Pavilion is how it managed to introduce different authentic Indonesian food dishes — and beverages — at the expo. Even President Yudhoyono, for example, jokingly opened the business forum on Monday evening by urging attendees to visit the pavilion and “enjoy our world famous nasi goreng.”
“Our pavilion is really famous, especially for its authentic Indonesian food,” he added.
In Oct. 20, the pavilion also flew two winners of the Nasi Goreng Competition to Shanghai. Arsita Laksmi Paramita, with her nasi goreng recipe called Nasi Goreng Iwak Pe, flew to Shanghai with second prize winner Yustiana to cook in front of a live audience on Oct. 24, allowing the public to taste the winning recipe firsthand.
Over the six-month period, the pavilion’s restaurant, Enak, sold more than 67,000 plates of nasi goreng, 46,000 plates of fried noodles, 40,000 portions of nasi campur and 350,000 sticks of chicken satay and took in US$2.7 million, making it the fourth most favorite restaurant at the expo after those of Germany, Japan and France. Its kopi luwak at RMB380 (US$57) per cup was also a well known beverage at the expo.
In addition to milestone visitors winning roundtrip airline tickets to Indonesia, the last visitor to the pavilion on the last day of the expo, school teacher Zhu Zhao Hui, was also presented with a gift of a free return ticket to one of 33 destinations in Indonesia provided by Garuda Indonesia Airline.
What all Indonesians should be proud of was how the idea behind an open pavilion made of bamboo, with original artifacts on creative display, worked like a charm. On Oct. 30, it was announced that the massive structure was the winner of the Bronze World Expo Award for Creative Display in the 4,000-meter Self-Built Pavilions category after Saudi Arabia and Japan, making Indonesia the only developing country to receive such an award.
The Bronze award winners for the Theme Development and Pavilion Design categories were France and Spain.
Only 34 of the total 192 country pavilions received these prestigious awards. The award evaluates each pavilion’s interior design, exhibit presentation and narrative relevance to the World Expo 2010’s overall theme of “Better City, Better Life”, conducted by nine experts in architecture and urban planning led by the International Exhibitions Bureau Awards Committee.
“This is totally unexpected, a big surprise for every one of us,” said Indonesian Pavilion exhibit display designer Pincky Sudarman upon receiving the award at the World Expo Center.
Despite the success, Indonesian Pavilion officials have yet to confirm participation in the next world expo to be hosted by Milan, Italy, in 2015 with “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life” as its theme.
The World Expo 2010 Shanghai China recorded 73,084,400 expo visitors in total by Oct. 31. There is no news yet on which pavilions will be left standing after the expo.
The closing ceremony on Oct. 31 was attended by different world leaders, including Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Nepalese President Ram Baran Yadav. UN General-Secretary Ban Ki-moon also attended the event.