Travel Moments

Travel Moments

Travel stories are so interesting, everybody loves hearing them and the lucky ones get to share them. There are so many great stories and adventures happening all the time with all the Aussies abroad in the big bad world. We take a look at the lighter side of being an Aussie abroad and experiencing those cross cultural differences and blunders. The world is an interesting place with different food, language and people. Here are some stories from my own accounts and others I’ve heard and found online. We like to call them our Travel Moments.

Food Moments

Oh…..the food. How we both love it and despise it in our travels. No article on culture could exist without travel stories involving food.

Australian comedian Shaun Micallef shared his travel moment in an article published in, “My most memorable food moment was in Ireland. My wife and I went to an Italian restaurant that was entirely staffed by Scots. We were convinced the meatballs tasted like haggis, it’s hard to be sure”.

We have all had our food moments overseas. In Thailand, I ate a dish called Goong Thom where small prawns are served and eaten alive. Other strange delicacies came my way in a popular restaurant in Nairobi called Carnivores, I devoured zebra, snake, giraffe and hippo……and they don’t taste like chicken.

Travel Moments
Not for Vegetarians Carnivores Restaurant.

A friend of mine recounts his time in Hong Kong back in the early 2000s, “I was starving but far from anywhere I recognized, not knowing Hong Kong that well I walked into a restaurant that looked kinda western from the outside. When I strolled in the noise quietened and there were a few glances my way. Not to be intimidated, I ordered my meal by pointed to a random dish on the menu. The non English-speaking staff politely giggled and looked a bit surprised. As I ate my meat pieces with gravy and rice I received a few glances of approval from the Chinese customers. No idea what I ate but best to not know”.

Sounds like he had a dog of a time while trying to get a good meal (pun intended).

Language Moments.

Language barriers whilst overseas can be a bit of a hurdle but they also present the best travel moments. Lucky for us Aussies, most people around the world speak English. Once you have been out of Australia for a while you start to learn a few different versions of English. Who said we are not multilingual? Most Aussies try to talk slower and more clearer but it sounds a bit weird and creates a completely different accent. You know what I mean!

Johnny Ward, writer and traveler for onestep4ward shares his story, “I’m based in Thailand and the stories about how beautiful the woman are are all true. When I first came here, I thought it would be a good idea to compliment the girls on how gorgeous they are in Thai. “Khun Suay Maak”. Easy! Poor Johnny used that phrase over and over again, but to no avail. The reason is, “Suay” pronounced without raising inflection at the end means “I damn you”. Whoops!

I had my own experience in Lebanon, whilst dining with a Lebanese friend who was eager to impress with their food.

Travel Moments
More Foul Please!

I ate so much that I was bursting at the seams. The food kept coming, tabouli, grilled meats, bread, hummus and many other dishes.

One of the dishes made up of beans is called “foul”, the name is funny enough but its actually pronounced like the word “full”. So when my generous host asked if I wanted more food I answered “I’m full”, he shouted “Foul” to the waiter and I politely forced down another dish.

Like the time an Indian lady said “It’s varm”. I asked her to repeat and she said “Varm, varm, varm”, I still looked confused until I realized “it’s warm”. Oh boy!

Cultural Blunders

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, we can just come across as ignorant because cultures are so varied and complex. The moment you realize you feel really, really silly. Don’t worry, it’s a travel moment and will make for a good story.

Apparently, some IKEA product names had other meanings in various other languages. To fix this, IKEA hired a team of linguists to sort out the blunders.

There’s also the case of body language, in Iran for example thumbs up translates to same as middle finger up.

Travel Moments
Thumbs up to you too!

Many cultures use their arms freely and expressively when they communicate, as in Italy, but in northern Europe many cultures find it insincere and over dramatic.

In 2010, at Athens Airport I was buying a plane ticket. While asking the staff if there were seats available she nodded her head up and down. I was pleased and asked for the price, she looked at me and nodded again. As I repeated my request I was met with a rather irate and vocal “Noooo”. This one surprised me, I grew up around many Greeks in Sydney and no one mentioned that nodding signifies a negative.

Actually, there’s always surprises and that’s what makes our travel moments interesting, funny and at times just damn frustrating.

There You Have It

A brief read highlighting the Faux Pas that go on out there. We love hearing stories and antidotes at Ozzies Abroad. Share a story or two with us below on some travel moments you’ve experienced. Go on, we know you want to!

See Ya later!

6 Replies to “Travel Moments”

  1. Hi buddy,

    This was an entertaining read, I was pretty grossed out to hear about the small prawns are served and eaten alive but, from that point I was captivated. You know i though anything that was fish tastes like chicken!

    Crazy how some cultures have different meanings for gestures, im sure its landed some people in many a sticky situations. I had a mate who put his feet up in india on a train! They don’t like that.

    Thumbs up and a nod for the great article, or wait, thumbs down and no nod! 🙂


  2. Hi
    Another interesting post you have here. The joy we derive from travelling comes with the adventure and fun we experience. I remember going to Italy for the first time and because it was very hot, I went into a store and asked for an ice cream. Can you believe that no one in the store knew what I was talking about. My husband had to help before I got a gelato that day.

  3. Hi there,

    Great article, I’m Irish by the way and will be looking out for the Italian restaurant that is staffed by Scots serving haggis meatballs.

    I love to sample new cuisine when on holiday, I haven’t been to Australia yet but am looking forward to sampling the grub on offer some day.

    Keep up the good work,


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *