Are you looking to expand your knowledge of Asia? Fortunately, there are many opportunities to experience Asia in the United States. With a car or cheap train ticket, you can get a taste of Asia sans the hefty price of a plane ticket and the exhaustion after a 14-hour flight. Check out these cost-friendly ideas to help you embrace Asian culture and food.
Chinatown: Seems like a no-brainer, right? Chinatown offers cuisines from China, Vietnam, Korea, Philippines, and Japan, blending cultures, food, and languages. The crowded sidewalks, the steaming cheong fun, the delectable egg custard, the humongous Hello Kitty stuffed animals, you could almost pretend that you were in Hong Kong or Ho Chi Minh City. However, Chinatown is best experienced during festivals such as the Mid-Autumn Festival (Sep. 8, 2014), the New Year’s Festival (Jan. 1 – 3, 2015), and the Dragon Boat Festival (June 2, 2015). Most major cities in the United States will have a Chinatown to accompany it—simply locate the nearest major city and a Chinatown is bound to be nearby.
Gardens: Botanical gardens, though typically small, are rich in history and the Asian perspective towards nature. For instance, the Japanese display their love the simplicity of nature through their gardens. In Japanese gardens, you’ll find koi swim in small ponds and moss climb up rounded rocks. Chinese botanical gardens, on the other hand, have a dramatic and elaborate interpretation of nature, using grand garden buildings and impressive rocks to convey the theatrical side of nature. Celebrated botanical gardens can be found across the US.
Temples: Religion, in some Asian cultures, is heavily embedded in day-to-day life. Hindu temples, Buddhist temples, and gurdwaras (Sikh places of worship) are not only places of worship but a cultural epicenter filled with history. Going to a temple offers a spiritual experience of Asian culture. Temples can be found in almost every state in the US.
Museums: Artifacts, tours, and exhibits can provide a story of historical Asia or a celebration of modern Asia through exhibitions such as “Chinese American Designers” at the Chinese Museum of America in New York City. Tibetan, Japanese, and Chinese art is frequently featured in museums like the Smithsonian and The Metropolitan Museum of Art with displays showcasing everything from modern fashion to ancient poetry.
Grocery stores: A simple grocery run to an Asian food market can be very eye-opening. While perusing the shelves, indulge in the sights and smells, listen to the different languages, be adventurous and try an exotic new food. The possibilities are endless. Everything from the popular Indian spice haldi (turmeric) to matdonsang (a Korean snack of deep fried flour with peanut sprinkles) and “whistle candy” (a whimsical little candy, which if blown, emits a shrill, whistling noise) can be found in an Asian grocery store.
Photo via NYCDailyPics.com