« Worlds of Flavor 2009: Snapshot | Main | Worlds of Flavor 2009: Chef Musa Dagdeviren »




I turned down a job in the bay area to move out to Tokyo and, though I've never experienced the California lifestyle you describe so beautifully, sometimes the could-have-beens make my heart hurt a little bit. I only wish I could be as content with my choice as you are...


This is the kind of dilemma I turn back and forth in my head. Though really, I suppose it's not such a bad deal having to make a difficult choice between two equally attractive ways of life...-X


I like this post a lot. Very different from your usual. It let me peek a little into your past. Sounded like the perfect life, Robyn. Many people would have given an arm and a leg for it. What made you two leave all that? Was it a gradual weaning away by new interest, pursuit and/or work opportunity or it was a drastic move?

Katy Biggs

SF (Bay area) is unique! I don't know anyone that visited it and didn't fall in love with it...


Aah, just what my dreams are made of... We don't get this in Singapore and cost of living is scarily expensive considering relatively low(er) income levels. We'd have to be millionaires to live such a life here.


Thank you for this beautiful post.


I relate. When I return home to Nova Scotia I love it and have a bit of a mental struggle to return to Asia. Once I'm back though the Asian love affair begins again :)


this is one beautiful entry.. you were soo descriptive that I can't help trying to play those scenes in my head.

as someone living in such a seemingly 'normal' 9-to-5 kind of life, I can't help admiring yours...

welcome back to Asia! more Asian food entries (esp. pictures) please!


I have visited all the major cities on the west coast. I thought Vancouver,BC was beautiful and wanted to move to San Diego in 1999. San Diego's weather is really nice, even in the summer time. Florida, my home is awful in the summer but nice from November to March. I gave up on San Diego since houses were so expensive. It is more affordable now. San Francisco has dramatic landscapes but I found it a bit cold, even in the summer. It is a very crowded city and difficult to find parking. I may retire early and move back to Malaysia due to cheaper health care and cost of living. I love to find a home in Cameron Highlands.


I can completely relate to this especially your numerous mentions of cheese (Did you realise how many times you mentioned cheese?). My husband and I have spent many an evening lying on the tatami floor in Japan fantasizing about all the cheese in the world and trying to name as many as we could. Self-torture when living in Asia, no doubt!

When in Asia I dream of cheese and wine. When not in Asia, I dream of freshly made noodles and tofu, fragrant pastes and sticky fruits and, most importantly, walking outside and eating something delectable on the street amongst the happenings in the world.

Tangled Noodle

[Sigh] You've described The Life that I've always imagined having! My husband and I experience something similar during vacation, when we fall in love with our holiday locale. But I am careful not to crave it to the point of becoming dissatisfied with the everyday life I lead. The grass is always greener until you jump the fence and look back to find that the grass back there was pretty lush, too!

We've moved several times in the course of our marriage and though I miss each place we leave behind, I'm always excited for new discoveries. And it is a strangely satisfying experience to return to an old home and realize that each experience has change me. I can then look back with fresh eyes and discover something new again!


Peter - the Bay Area is a great place to live. Sorry you don't love Tokyo ... I know of many Americans who moved there and have never left.

Xander - true. What would be even better is to have a home in both. Travelling is never the same as living. I always pine for a kitchen when we are visiting N CA.

TJ - we lived in the Bay Area 1990-94, then in HK and China, then happily moved back end 1998 for what we thought at the time was forever. After a couple yrs we were itching to be back in Asia, which suggested that perhaps the US would never again really be 'home'. Dave got a job offer in Bangkok end 2002, and we jumped at it. Been in SE Asia ever since.

Katy - it is, isn't it? I could probably be happy anywhere in the Northwest, but gosh, the weather in the Bay Area is hard to beat.

gohweegin - Frankly KL seems expensive in comparison to the Bay Area, so Singapore must really be. For what we pay for a small semi-d here we could rent a nice house in the East Bay hills there. Which doesn't make sense to me at all. But there you are.

Jennifer - you're welcome!

Ladyexpat - exactly. We've been back less than a day and I know exactly why we are here.

CT-coming up, after just one or two more Worlds of Flavor posts.

Meng-your frame of reference must not be KL, bec San Fran seems very uncrowded to me. It's also got a real, useable pub transport system (unlike KL) ... so a car's not really necessary all the time. We lived in the East Bay, which unlike San Fran proper got plenty of sun. And I always welcomed the rainy season, because for once I didn't have to feel guilty about passing an afternoon indoors reading, or at a movie on a gorgeous day. ;-)

Marie - ha ha, I hadn't noticed that. I really don't crave cheese that much here, mostly bec there's no great bread to go with it. Wine I miss terribly -- no, make that a variety of wonderful wines at reasonable prices. Our selection here is limited and it's ridiculously expensive.

Tangled Noodle - well put! Whenever I return to the Bay Area I see (and appreciate) something that I didn't (or took much too for granted) when I lived there. One day I know we will leave KL (we've moved too much in the past to stay put anywhere forever), and will see this place with new eyes too, on visits back. Always look forward to the new, I say.


Wow, my husband and I just came back from a two week vaca to Northern Cali. I get what you are describing and it's wonderful. San Fran is amazing. But, when I think about where you want to live your life I can't complain. I live in Athens, Ohio. It's a university town, the restaurant scene is small but seems to be emerging, and the farmer's market is nationally known. Our area is known for the natural beauty, the rustic hills and valleys, and friendly people.

Kayaking in Tomales Bay on an unseasonally warm calm day could do me anytime though.


I've thought this post over for most of the day. While I think you're right, the Bay Area is a tough place to get your foot in the door. I may have to leave it before it ever really works out.

Katy Biggs

Don't remember where I got this from - but Berkeley has been known to have the best weather to live in on the planet! Sure you won't disagree! :-)

Re property - what do they say, location-location-location. For the money my parents pay for a small apartment in central Taipei, they could afford a castle in Northern Scotland!!


You're right about how expensive living (and eating) in Singapore is. I live in Singapore, but am lucky to be able to make frequent business trips to San Francisco (10 times in the last 20 months) and indulge myself at the eating spots there. I'd save every cent I can just to eat well in SF, rather than suffer poor food & service in top-end places in Singapore (which very often happens!).

Danielle @ Bon Vivant

I loved reading this. I grew up in Singapore and we moved to the Bay Area two years ago and have grown to love it. While I miss Southeast Asia's street food and gorgeous beaches, the quality of life in the Bay Area is pretty hard to beat, and I know that I will miss it terribly when we move one day. All the more reason to make the most of everyday and live in the moment, wherever in the world you are.


Beautiful beautiful post, making me feeling extra grateful for living in the Bay Area.


Robyn, I don't know how I missed this post earlier but your sentiments speak so strongly to me because we've just moved out of the Bay Area and I miss so much about it (almost everything you mentioned and then some!). It's not that SE Asia is not great--it's where I grew up after all but I'm so disenchanted by the cost of things here. I'm appalled that I have to pay so much for hardly anything (it is too easy to get spoiled by the abundance of produce and everything else in the Bay Area) and I don't know how people survive here what with being paid so little and then having to pay so much for basic things. There are great things to be found here too I agree but I just wish that I could make my dollar stretch the way I did in San Jose.

Thank you so much for this post. You put into words a lot of how I've been feeling. Well...maybe the latter part is still taking a while to actually become truth...I still wish for the Bay Area something fierce but I will say that with every new day, I'm finding new things to appreciate about being in Kuching.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Look Inside and Pre-Order! Also available at Barnes&Noble and Indiebound.