EXPATS BEWARE: SIGNS TO HEED

by missfootloose on February 27, 2010 · 10 comments

in Culture and Customs, expat, Expat life, travel

Have you ever seen, right in front of your car, a person crossing a road crawling on all fours? As an expat or a foreigner traveling in alien lands you get lots of opportunities to get into trouble. Some trouble is more fun than others, but it’s wise to keep an eye out for signs and warnings and to pay attention to whatever the locals tell you.

Photo of drunken person by mylifestory / cc

I’ve gathered some photos here that should give you some idea of what to look out for in some of the countries I am familiar with in one way or another. If this is helpful to even one person, my efforts will have been worth it.


While on the island of Phuket in THAILAND, where trouble found us in the form of an ear ache afflicting our number two daughter (see: EXPAT CHILD IN PAIN: HUNTING DOWN THE DOCTOR) we were careful about the medicine we were given by a sleepy doctor wearing shorts and a Micky Mouse T-shirt. There was more trouble to be found as you can see on this sign, but fortunately we managed to avoid running over an inebriated person crawling across the road. I should clarify that Phuket Island is a tourist place, and the people ending up on all fours are usually not the locals.

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In ARMENIA be prepared to get lost. This is easy to do and there are various ways: First there is the unique alphabet which renders you an instant illiterate. Then there is the spoken language itself which is unique as well and completely unintelligible. This then makes you helpless as a baby. Then to really let you get lost in the wilds of the Caucasus mountains, the locals offer you road signs like this one:

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COSTA RICA is a beautiful country with lovely, warm people. Only sometimes apparently they get too warm . . .

Photo by Chuck Bryant / cc


In restaurants, parks and other public places you’ll find signs like this: Amorous scenes forbidden. In other words, no smooching here!

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In GHANA, West Africa, where we lived for a number of years, we had a bar in our neighborhood, the No. 1 choice for many. It was a lively place.


Lots of good fun, loud music, lots of beer. Still, looking at the sign, you should ask yourself, do I really want to go to this place?

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If you’ve brought along your beloved dog to my native HOLLAND, you’ll want to pay attention to the sign on the photo below.

Photo by Koffiemetkoek / cc


My people are known to be a practical, down-to-earth lot, so this sign is graphic and to the point and needs no words in any language.

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In ALBANIA where I spent a short time living in an upscale apartment in the snazzy downtown area of Tirana, a sign on the inside of our front door warned us we’d better be quiet as a mouse or else! It made me wonder what warning was posted on the doors of less fancy apartments.

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And last but not least, expats beware of what the natives may do to your children! You may not recognize your own flesh and blood when they get done with them.


Here a photo of what happened to my number one daughter in INDONESIA when invited to partake in a local fashion show. She’s in the middle with two of her friends, a Dutch girl (right on photo) and a German girl (left). All three Caucasian blondes.

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Tell me what fun, interesting or scary signs or warnings you have come across in your travels. I’m waiting!

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Mara February 27, 2010 at 11:10 am

I’ve always loved the sign that you can find everywhere in Britain: take care, elderly people crossing. They tried it in the Netherlands, but within a week several of those signs were stolen!

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planetnomad February 27, 2010 at 9:20 pm

Oh so funny! I love the signs, and I have some fun stories of my own. There was restaurant “Never Die” in Dakar, Senegal–covered in Maggi cube logos. Obviously you won’t die because of all the preservatives 😉 Also the inappropriately named “Darkasse” Hotel, again in Dakar.
There’s the sign that says “Don’t piss on this wall” outside an embassy in Nouakchott.
There’s the restaurant in Spain with the logo of a small boy peeing into a pot to denote the men’s room, and a girl sitting on a pot for the women’s.
And so many more! But I don’t want to take over your comments.

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Mitr Friend - Bhushavali February 28, 2010 at 2:45 pm

Ha ha..
Beware of drunkards crossing!!!!
No Smooching!!!
– I can’t control laughing. OMG!!!

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Mary and Sean March 2, 2010 at 6:22 am

These signs are really hilarious.

In Okinawa, home of the largest concentration of centenarians, we have “Old people” crossings which show a person bent over and hobbling with a cane.

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Anonymous March 3, 2010 at 1:04 am

No Smorking in Japan. Also my favorite crepes placed advertised “warm in your hand love them in your tummy”. There was also Hambug steak for sale in Tokyo but the best one of all was a lingerie shop in Seoul called

Make Yourself F***ing Lovely

I saw it everyday on my way to work and it never failed to make me smile.

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LadyFi March 3, 2010 at 5:40 am

Oh, I love those signs… And the one about drinking beer in the Puky House seems very appropriate!

Also, it’s nice to see signs telling dogs that they may poo… as most countries have signs telling them to hold it in! 😉

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jen laceda March 3, 2010 at 4:17 pm

I enjoyed reading this post!! I’ll have to dig deep into my “coffer” to find those hidden gems. I know I’ve encountered some funny ones in the Philippines!

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