10 Ways Expats Have More Fun

by missfootloose on April 7, 2012 · 24 comments

in adventure, Expat life, life abroad

Note: This post was updated to Twelve Ways Expats Have More Fun.

Only ten ways we expats have more fun, you ask? I know, there are many more, but do you want to read a list of a hundred? No, I didn’t think so. So here’s ten:

ONE: You have fun watching your expat kids morph into foreigners.

expat life
The middle one is my daughter number one taking part in a fashion show in Indonesia. Left is her German friend, right her Dutch friend.

TWO: You get to eat exotic foods like, say, fertility sausage made from goat meat. A Kenyan farmer was feeling sorry for my husband because after a year of marriage I had failed to produce a mtoto, a baby. He gave my prince a fertility sausage for me to eat. Yes, I ate some. And it worked! I got pregnant four years later on another continent (with the one on the picture above).

THREE: As an expat you’ll probably visit wineries in Chili, South Africa, or maybe even Moldova. How exiting is it to see Vladimir Putin’s personal wine stash in the huge Cricova winery cellars in Moldova?

Okay, not so much, but the place itself is cool (and cold too). It boasts 120 km (75 m) of labyrinthine underground roadways and the number of bottles stored there is mind boggling. So are the cobwebs and dust covering the bottles.

FOUR: As an expat traveler you get fabulous opportunities to visit exotic places, for example a tropical rainforest in Ecuador.

Ecuador rainforest

FIVE: You may get a chance to visit the homes of interesting people, such as the mud hut of a Kenyan farmer, the palace of a Ghanaian chief, or the home of a Gypsy family in Romania.

Gypsy family
Here’s my story: Dancing with the Gypsies

SIX: You’ll have a chance to get chased by exotic animals –  lions or tigers, or maybe a water buffalo. This happened to me in Indonesia, although nobody ever believed me. I was on a hike through rice paddies and fields with my Hash House Harriers running club mates. A Swiss friend and I had lost the trail and were by ourselves in the wilds of the Java countryside. And suddenly there was this water buffalo and it didn’t look friendly and it started chasing us. We ran like crazy, made it back to the group completely out of breath, and no one believed us. Supposedly water buffaloes don’t chase people. Oh, yeah?

SEVEN: You may get to watch Albanians cure olives!  I know, I know, maybe not so exciting, but who’d ever think a Dutch girl would find herself having fun visiting olive farmers in Albania and having lunch with them? And no, curing olives is not a pretty business but they sure taste good when they’re done.

Olives curing
EIGHT: You accidentally run into colorful, noisy foreign demonstrations, festivals or parades, like this Easter parade in Costa Rica. For a sober Dutch person of lapsed Protestant vintage, this was fun to see. Lots of dancers in costumes and interesting floats.

San Ramon Easter Parade
NINE: As an expat you may start a collection of handmade carpets — oriental, Persian, Moroccan. And sometimes you get to actually see how they are made. In a village in Armenia I watched the women comb the wool, spin the wool and weave the wool into carpets.

Armenian Carpets

These two women were combing the wool, which is done before it can be spun. You can see the wool in boxes next to them. Think of all that work that goes into making a handmade carpet!

TEN: In various places the world over you can go to spas and get yourself smeared with various exotic mixtures and concoctions. In Israel you can smear yourself all over with Dead Sea mud. How fun is that!

Dead Sea Mud
And yes, that’s me, the short one on the right on the picture. Oh, and I swam floated in the Dead Sea too, but I must confess here that the water feels slimy and disgusting and it stinks. That’s why it’s so good for you. Maybe.

That’s my ten and now it’s your turn.  Please tell me about your expat travel fun!

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Steph April 7, 2012 at 12:34 pm

Lovely post! I totally agree with your number one – that’s been the most amazing thing of all about being an expat. Compared with your experiences, mine are rather tame but I shall definitely have a think and come up with my own top ten.
Oh, and please join in the expat blog hop on 23 April. Details in today’s post.
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Kathy April 7, 2012 at 6:22 pm

This is great! I love the mud! I hope it worked after all that.
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YTSL April 8, 2012 at 5:34 am

Hi Miss Footloose —

A question: when living in a particular country, do you tend to travel within it and its continent? If so, then we’re similar that way.

One of the things I really like about expat travel is how places once foreign grow to become places you know well and love. Put another way: I (like that I) now have favorite foreign places that now feel like home.

At the same time, I still do like how I often do still visit — and, in the process, unexpectedly come across — “new” places… including places that seem far off the beaten track for many locals as well as tourists.

E.g., would you believe the place I wrote about in the following blog entry exists in Hong Kong?

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missfootloose April 9, 2012 at 10:41 am

Sounds like we have a similar expat and travel philosophy. I like expat life because it is not tourist-life. As an expat you get the chance to learn more about a country and its people, which is so much more interesting than just being a tourist. Of course I’ve been a tourist as well in many places, but try to stay away from the tourist hotels and bus tours etc. We like to rent local housing and rent car and take off on our own. I’ll check out your post!


Turkey's For Life April 8, 2012 at 8:28 am

Hmm, you’ve got me thinking about a top 10 now, although we’re obviously not as extensively travelled as you are. 🙂 If you’ve got an inclination to cake yourself in mud, there are mud baths close to here. They stink of sulphur apparently and are really good for you. We’re just not buying it though and have never done it. 😉
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missfootloose April 9, 2012 at 10:34 am

Oh, go for it Julia! Mud is fun! Where are the ones near Fethiye? Maybe I’ll go there and start a “collection” and eventually have a post: Smearing Myself With Mud the World Around or Seven Mudful Locations – something like that.


Sonia Marsh/GutsyLiving April 8, 2012 at 5:31 pm

Miss Footloose, No wonder you have so many interesting stories from around the world to share. I never realized how much you’ve seen of the world until I read these ten exciting locations. Have you made a list of your life with where you’ve lived and for how long? I’d love to see that list. Another post?
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missfootloose April 9, 2012 at 10:30 am

Have not made a list on paper of my various expat and travel locations, but have them in my head, and in my stories. Don’t know of a list by itself is all that interesting 😉


Pat April 8, 2012 at 7:38 pm

Oh Miss Footloose…don’t think any of my X-pat adventures can top your stories, but thank you for the delightful tales you bring me each week with your Life in the Expat Lane! LOVE IT!


missfootloose April 9, 2012 at 8:03 am

Why, thank you! I so enjoy getting a little blog-stroking 😉 Glad you enjoy my tales!


MaryWitzl April 8, 2012 at 9:48 pm

I certainly agree with your number one too: it was fun to see our kids dressed up in kimono every 7-5-3 day in Japan and to take them to the local shrine to have the naughtiness waved out of them with green branches (it doesn’t work, in case you’re wondering). And I’ll always relish the memory of our girls marching around the gym to the stirring sounds of the Turkish national anthem. Priceless.
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missfootloose April 9, 2012 at 7:59 am

You must have some great pictures too of your kids in expat clothes and surroundings. Great memories for them to tell their kids about later.


Joy (My Turkish Joys) April 8, 2012 at 10:18 pm

Our number 1 expat priority is traveling (nearly) every month to somewhere new either in Turkey or nearby, depending on the travel deals we find. So far this year, we’ve been to Dusseldorf and Cologne, Germany, North Cyprus and Konya, Turkey. This month, we are off to see the 17-th century Ottoman houses in Safranbolu and in May, off to Rome and Naples. I can’t complain! 😉
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missfootloose April 9, 2012 at 7:56 am

Great plan for traveling you have, for sure. We were in Rome not long ago and enjoyed it. May should be lovely for walking around and enjoying the sights and soaking up Rome’s ambiance.


Welshcakes Limoncello April 9, 2012 at 7:41 pm

I think I’ll pass on the mud but yes, we do have fun! Happy Easter Monday to you.
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Moon Over Martinborough April 10, 2012 at 8:36 pm

Great post. Yes, it’s good to be an expat. I’m an American living in NZ now for, oh, 8 years or so, and I love it. Even after 8 years it still feels new.
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Expat Mum April 11, 2012 at 11:49 pm

I’m a static expat as opposed to all you serial expats who get to live in various different places, but I also like to travel as much as possible. Currently in Costa Rica and trying to step outside of my comfort zone – zip-lining this morning! (Didn’t make a fool of myself as I thought I might!)
It’s hard not to be a tourist when you only have a week here and there but we definitely try to do things ourselves when we can. However, the other side of the “doing the touristy” coin is that you get to contribute to the tourist industry, which, here at least, keeps a lot of people in steady employment.
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missfootloose April 17, 2012 at 10:09 am

I’ve been a tourist rather than an expat lots of times, like in Costa Rica. If you just visit a place it is hard not to be of course, but it can be loads of good fun. Getting out of your comfort zone is usually possible, and a good thing. You are quite right that spending money as a tourist helps the local economy. Costa Rica and many other places (Egypt, Turkey) depend heavily on tourists.

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Andrea April 13, 2012 at 11:06 pm

This is great! =) You’ve certainly lived in some fascinating places
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Karen April 15, 2012 at 8:40 pm

A recent way I had fun as an expat recently was acting in a play – I figured if I was really bad – it didn’t matter. I was out of town! But, it was actually enormous fun.
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missfootloose April 21, 2012 at 10:07 am

I used to take part in British plays called “pantomimes” when I lived in Ghana. Hilarious stuff, and it’s great to be able to make fun like that and not take yourself too seriously. In one of our plays the USAID director played Red Riding Hood’s grandmother. Was dressed like grandma, wig, boobs and all. Here’s a guy to have a beer with 😉


Patrick Waller April 16, 2012 at 9:19 am

Nice one…..I particular like Putin’s wine.
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missfootloose April 17, 2012 at 10:16 am

You do come across the oddest things when wandering abroad!
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tiffany April 22, 2012 at 11:23 am

Love watching my american born boys play with their broad of international friends in my moroccan living room while I sip tea and gossip with the moms. Overhearing them speak in a melange of english, french, german, thai, spanish and arabic. I find it fascinating that my 4 year old uses words from each language. I also enjoy celebrating new holidays and learning about other countries customs. Not only our host country, but those of our friends who are here with us from other parts of the world. I host a egg decorating and gingerbread house decorating party. My friends host winter fondue parties, Thai New Years, Friday Couscous and others events.
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