Inspired And Educated By FestivalAsia

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On Saturday 16th May MCM Buzz was invited to cover the FestivalAsia event at Tobacco Dock in London – an event covering everything from entertainment to culture from around the continent of Asia. It was a beautiful day with a breeze in the air and the hot sun beating down on the bustling city. It was the first time I had been to Tobacco Dock, but with a big ship stationed outside the building, it’s not hard to spot, and I have to say, the outside does not prepare you for what’s hidden within. The architecture of the building is breathtaking, spacious yet full of history and just perfect for the event at hand.

Once we had picked up our wristbands for the day, we began to explore rooms separated by glass panels. The halls had amazing natural light and were a mix of open air and confined spaces. Within each of the rooms on the top balcony, there were stall holders, informative presentations and classes of different types all happening at once. On the main stage, located in the centre of the venue, an array of performances kept the crowds entertained throughout the day, while on the lower deck and outside was a collection of traditional foods from all over the continent.

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It was nice to see that all of the stall-holders were willing to take a little time to talk about their products, and also educate visitors about their culture. There were handmade goods on offer ranging from jewellery and clothing to bags and crafts, all of which were beautifully presented. Amongst the stalls, I got the chance to talk to Bubble Tea Magazine, which had an amazing, huge, inflatable bubble tea available for photo opportunities. Bubble Tea Magazine representatives were giving away free copies of their magazine along with some really cool tote bags – perfect for those bubble tea enthusiasts out there!

Next, I was able to have a chat with the guys at Rocket Chips, who have brought the Asian sensational snack of popped rice to the UK. After listening to their entertaining sales pitch and the story of how they created their company, I was able to try their product. Needless to say, they were beyond my expectations and I ended up buying their Thai Sweet Chilli and Margarita Pizza flavoured crisps.

Spurred on by the party on my tastebuds, I was ready to explore the food court, but what I was not expecting was the vast number of authentic dishes to sample – enough to easily put me in a food coma! Tasting food from Japan, India, Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Thailand was an amazing experience in its own right. Everything I was able to try had its own unique texture and taste, and I was even able to learn how to make my very own Indonesian dumplings. To wash down the attack of tastes on my tongue, I was guided to the All-Asian bar which offered a collection of alcoholic drinks. Further on, there were some very cute Bubble Teas available in numerous different flavours, but what really caught my eye about them was the fact that their bubbles were in the shapes of stars, dolphins and teddy bears – total cute overload!

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Whilst walking around the event, I was aware of different types of music being played on the main stage. One performance that seemed to catch the attention of most attendees was Taiko West‘s performance in the Japanese drumming style ‘Taiko’. All the seats were filled as people crowded around the stage to watch the performance, and it was easy to see why. The performance was so powerful and emotional that I was left completely enthralled by the shof teer sound of the drums. If any of our readers get the chance to see some Taiko drummers live, I wholeheartedly recommend it!

The Korean duo KAYA also represented their culture with some beautiful harmonies from the 25-string Gayagum, accompanied by an acoustic guitar, which gave the walk around the busy festival a slightly ethereal feeling. Also on offer were some hands-on experiences from the likes of the London language school SOAS, who ran workshops throughout the day teaching the basics of various Asian languages. Fans of anime and manga were also given the chance to learn how to draw in the manga style, while other attendees tried their hand at writing their name in traditional Chinese calligraphy.

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No matter where I went within the venue, I was greeted with a warm smile, informative and educational experiences, and great entertainment, all so authentic they left me feeling as though I really was in another country. It was a pleasant surprise, and I’m hoping that this will become a yearly event.

For further updates on future cultural events, as well as photographs from the event itself, head over to the MCM Buzz Facebook page and check out the FestivalAsia website. A big thank you to the organisers for their invitation and their assistance.

 

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