Around Town, Local Fun

The Pan-Asian Experiment

The Pan-Asian Experiment: With teens!  Without leaving home!

It was a rainy Saturday and we were stuck in Seattle. My teen says, let’s take one of those trips where we don’t go anywhere. Awesome!  And she’s going to bring friends.  I felt a bit of pressure to make this a fun adventure for her and for her friends so I decided against anything overtly educational, plus I was banned from saying “museum.” I dug into my research … hmmm, what country, what country??  But, as soon as I tried to focus on any one country, I got sucked into details that I was afraid wouldn’t appeal to teens. After all, I couldn’t exactly expect them to get excited about a coloring sheet or learning 10 words in another language. Finally I came on an idea – a pan-Asia tour!

Like most trips to Asia, we started with a layover in Taipei, home of bubble tea!

bubble tea

And then we headed to Uwajimaya, our local Japanese (but sort of pan-Asian) supermarket. Instead of staying together and observing the new fruits and fun snacks, I gave them a shopping list and set them free. When I found them 15 minutes later, they were stuck on kafir lime leaves. I helped them out and asked, “OK, what have you found so far?” And they shouted with glee, “a red pepper!” OK this was gonna be fun. “You have 15 minutes to find everything else or else we are heading straight to the Seattle Art Museum for their new exhibit on modern Indian art.” That got them moving!

searching veggies

I perused the fruit alone and found a few fun things to sample – longans and rambutans. I easily relocated my trio of girls at the coconut milk display where they were having a giggle fit over finding a can with the same weight as the recipe required.


searching coconut

Outside for a fresh coconut and then over to Daiso for a little Japanese shopping spree. Horse fat cream anyone?

coconut man

drinking a coconut

shopping at Daiso

horse fat hand cream

It was, by now, fairly drizzly but I was dead-set on visiting a large Japanese garden on the south-side of town that I had only heard about. Kubota garden is free and huge and I was really excited. Problem – it was now getting close to pouring. Why hadn’t we purchased those $1.50 clear umbrellas at Daiso?

walking into garden

I assigned the girls the job of taking some great photos and then I tried to pretend that it was sunny. The garden was gorgeous. Even though we tried really hard to pretend, we got soaked.

garden pond

bell games

Collage of Teen Pix!  Better than mine eh?
Collage of Teen Pix! Better than mine eh?

Next stop, a specialty store near Microsoft for Indian deserts.

indian deserts

Back at home, we dried off and the girls made curry. Yup! They used all their ingredients and the recipe I had found on-line to create a Thai yellow-curry. I left them alone and later found a Wiki-how video open on my laptop: “How to par boil potatoes”. I had told them that they could ask if they needed help but I guess teens don’t need to ask parents anymore.

making dinner

making curry

Anyway, the curry was spectacular. I added some quick and easy sides – edamame (Japan) and frozen shumai (China). The Indian deserts were a mixed bag – some were delicious, others were more challenging.



After dinner, we retired to a Korean adventure drama, Woochi, that I had picked out by searching for “best movies” of various types that are streaming on Netflix now. It was advertised as “time travelling wizards battling giant rabbits to save humanity.” What could possibly go wrong?


Well, after 30 minutes no one had any idea what was going on. The teens quit and went upstairs to chat together. I stuck it out for another hour or so but only my husband and younger daughter made it to the end. I’m glad I saw it even if I didn’t understand much. The special effects were fun and peeking into another culture always makes me happy.

Overall, was it a successful experiment?  Yes!  Taiwan, Japan, China, Thailand, Korea, and India.  All explored.  Did they learn new words, geography, or historical facts?  Nope!  But they had fun, sub-consciously noticed that all Asian countries are not the same, pushed themselves to try new things, and got a little appetite for new flavors and ideas.

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