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Expo passports sold for RMB 5,580

2010. 30 June

Now you can have all the kudos associated with the ultimate Expo souvenir without having to go anywhere near those queues

For RMB 5,580 you can get this Expo passport pre-stamped, or get a 16GB iPhone 4. Which would you rather?

( What’s the ultimate Shanghai souvenir? Not a Shanghai Word Financial Center bottle opener (yes, they do exist) or a miniature Pearl Tower, it’s a Shanghai 2010 Expo Passport with a stamp from every Expo 2010 pavilion.

The purpose of World Expo Passports, which cost about RMB 200 each, is -- in theory -- to celebrate and keep track of all the Expo 2010 pavilions you have gone to by getting it stamped at the entrance to each one before you go in. This feel-good momento has been hijacked, and a market has developed for pre-stamped Expo passports. Why go and wait on lines to get stamped when you can just buy one online? 

Convenience doesn’t come cheap though, has translated an report on Expo passports that are going for RMB 5,580. To put that in perspective, the site points out that you can buy a 16GB black market iPhone 4 for less than that.

The market for these stamps has gotten so intense since the 2010 Expo has opened, pavilions have had to quickly develop rules on who can get stamped and how many passports one person can get stamped at a time. One Expo pavilion worker, speaking anonymously since she is not an official pavilion representative, said that her pavilion received people coming up with dozens of Expo passports to get stamped and most likely resold. 

“We’ve had to limit the number of passport stamps per person since people are coming up with stacks of them. When we've turned people away they've become violent,” physically pushing and hitting those guarding the stamp. 

Beyond the market for pre-stamped Expo passports (and the new jobs created for those willing to wait in line at the pavilions for stamps), the article also points out that like buying anything online, it’s a “buyer beware” market.

“Buyers after purchasing the passports [saw that some of the] medals were blurry, therefore it is hard to demonstrate whether is a real medal or not.”

The solution to this problem? Wait patiently in the 2010 Expo lines yourself.