I *just* had a realisation that I thought I'd share: so, I'm spending the summer on the Western coast of the USA. Northern California (San Francisco and the Bay Area to be precise). I was wandering around town today and thinking why I liked this area so much and reckoned I'd make a list:
1. It's like the best parts of my favourite cities--Sydney and Bangkok--came together and made a baby and this is it.
2. Any type of food/fruit you're after, you can get it somewhere. Often for really cheap. E.g., I had "ngah" (tried to find the English name to no avail but they are reddish fruit and have spine-like things on them) today and bought some "mongkut" (dark red/brown fruit with fleshy white stuff inside) and lychees to take to my dorm with me. In between typing, I'm scarfing down some of the fruit.
3. The shop right next door sells yakult and banana milk as well as Butter Coconut cookies, all staples from my childhood.
4. The many, many second-hand bookstores around the city.
5. The many, many excellent coffee and cakeshops around town.
6. The easy-going attitude towards clothing. I like Bangkok but one would never see locals (or, Asians in general) wearing short shorts or skirts over there. That was something farangs did. I recall being told at work that even non-heeled shoes weren't appropriate (as they weren't "feminine"). My response was that, unlike my boss (and my secretary who actually had a chauffeured Mercedes drive her about!), I had to take public transport in to work. Buses don't usually stop all the way over there--they slow down so you have to run and hope for the best, an activity not conducive to wearing heels. Anyway, clothing. So, here, I see lots of young women, including Asian women, wearing shorts. Not just skinny women but fairly chubby ones too. It's really nice, actually, since I reckon even in Washington (where I usually live), I don't see as many people--of all sizes and shapes-- just wandering around in casual, relaxing gear.
8. The many, many shops selling (mostly Asian-inspired) knickknacks, comic books (of all kinds, including some great small press ones I've found), Doctor Who novels and toys, and especially the people who discuss all these as though it was fairly normal (and not something only a tiny minority was keen on!)