16 Things an American Expat in Thailand Misses About Autumn

Is it just me or do posts about pumpkin spice lattes and fall foliage make you feel jealous, too? In this post we talk about the theory of climate envy.

wanderlust-fall-envy[dropcap letter=”A”]ll year long, expats living in Thailand can post (cough: brag) on Facebook, Instagram, and other strains of social media about their sun soaked lifestyles. This surely causes twinges of jealousy in Facebook voyeurs residing in cooler countries. During December, while our friends and family in Europe or in the U.S. are trudging through feet of white snow, we expats are smugly wiggling our toes in warm, white sand. Think about it for a minute – what  is one of the most commonly posted beach scenes we see on Facebook? “Feet on a beach lounge,” of course. (Usually freshly pedicured feet on a beach lounge, and thank goodness because I really don’t want to see a newsfeed of unpampered pieds; it’s bad enough as it is.) Posting such photos is the best way to let everyone you know that you’re sunbathing while they are trying to defrost. So, you can bet your friends back home probably hate you a lot of the time, but what those poor friends and family may not realize is that expats get climate envy as well.

If an expat accustomed to four seasons is stationed in a place where seasons vary from hot and wet, to hot and dry, to inferno hot, then the autumn and winter seasons in the Northern hemisphere are bound to bring on some blues. And it should be so, because we are the ones wearing sandals 365 days a year and it wouldn’t be fair not to be the losers once in a while.

Fall, the season of vibrant foliage and pumpkin-spice everything, is when I start feeling homesick. In the list below, I name the top things an American expat like me might miss about the autumn while living in Thailand.

16. Hot chocolate – Cooler weather justifies indulgence in this comforting beverage whether you make it from scratch or from an instant pack. I can get this easily in Bangkok, too, but it’s just not the same without the cool weather to go with it.

15. Pumpkin pie – A classic American dessert we know and love. Sweet potato pie is a close second. It might be that only Americans think this tastes good. (My Danish husband thinks it’s awful.) And yes there are cans upon cans of pumpkin puree in the grocery stores in Bangkok, but probably not in other parts of Thailand. (If it is, please make a comment – I am curious!)

14. Blankets – Growing up, blankets were part of my wardrobe almost. On cool, rainy, fall days, I loved to curl up on the couch with a blanket and a good book. Now the only time I use blankets is when sleeping and the air con is set to Arctic Blast.

13. Sweater weather  – When I am in the States, the first nip in the air in September makes me feel ready to ditch the t-shirts and pull on a cozy, knit sweater. Here in Thailand, the weather is basically the same every day, except for when a raindrop will have you groping around for your umbrella. (You can and should, however, bring a sweater to the movies. Sometimes I think it might snow at the movies in Thailand.)

12. Collecting colorful fall leaves – Not collecting as in raking, because that is a chore. What I mean is going for a stroll and picking up pretty leaves. Maybe figuring out a craft to do with them later. The one thing I stop and collect with my kids here are fallen frangipani flowers – which are beautiful and exotic but lack the whimsy of fall leaves.

11. Brilliant colors – In the Northeast of the States, where I am from, a beautiful autumn day means fiery leaves in orange, yellow, and red against a crystal clear azure sky. At the moment, I am writing this looking out at a huge monsoon downpour and overcast skies.

10. Boots – Preferably those that come to just under the knee, in a chocolate brown leather, please. Would not dream of wearing boots here in the tropics, and anything leather is bound to corrode!

9. Candied apples – There are a lot of apple treats to love in the fall, but this one comes on a stick so therefore it is better than most. This is one that I could make here, if I felt inspired enough to do it. I will not be going apple picking and enjoying them at a cute country-themed gift store at the orchard, though.

8. Fresh, crisp air  – Away with hot and muggy; in with air that feels good in your lungs!

7. Apple crisp – Combining the two previous items on the list, we have apple crisp. This is a wonderful dessert to enjoy in the fall. Tart apples baked with a crumbly cinnamon-loaded topping? Yes. If you’re lucky enough to have an oven, you can make this in Thailand, too.

6. Pumpkin picking – If there is something more cozy than picking out your own smooth, orange pumpkin, let me know. This beats carving which is also fun, but just a little gross and gooey in my opinion. As far as I know, there are not any pumpkin patches in Thailand with cute orange pumpkins. Correct me if I am wrong!

5. Trick o’ Treating – I might be too old for this now, but back in the day trick o’ treating was very exciting, and living in Thailand my kids are not likely to experience this tradition – not in the same way, at least.

4. Fireplaces – Snuggling up in front of the fireplace is hands-down the best part of the winter, and if it’s cool enough in the fall, you can get cracklin’ early. The smell, the sounds, the dancing flames – and you can toast some marshmallows while you’re enjoying the warmth. Meanwhile, I will be roasting marshmallows on the sidewalks of Bangkok.

3. Warm apple cider – Spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, I could definitely go for a warm mug of apple cider. Except that it’s 88 degrees out right now.

2. Jumping into piles of crunchy leaves – What better way to mess up yard work than to jump into a massive pile of leaves! Guaranteed fun. This is not possible in Thailand – leaves are green and attached the whole year!

1. Thanksgiving dinner – Winner winner, Thanksgiving dinner. Nothing can top the festive spirit of the fall like Thanksgiving. So many good foods to be enjoyed together with friends and family. It’s the epitome of autumn in America. If you live outside the USA, only other Americans will understand why you long for turkey and cranberry sauce.

Friends and family back home now know that we are jealous of you, too. Expats – What are we missing? What do you miss about autumn in cooler countries? Let us know in the comments below.


  • Anna Landgren says:

    Once we are settled in Tokyo – come and visit us during fall time and I promise I can arrange most of the things on your list! :) I DO understand your need for Autumn! I was the same living in Singapore. And sometimes here as well as the weather is seldom crystal clear with the blue skies I remember from Sweden!

    • editor says:

      Yes, Anna! Japan has all four seasons! I remember when I traveled there, I noticed they were very proud about being a country with four seasons. I didn’t really get it then, but I do now :)

  • Vanessa Batterham says:

    Originally from Melbourne, Australia where we have four seasons too. I miss pulling on a pair of knee high boots, woollen jacket & a scarf. Although, I do not miss experiencing cool or cold weather for over 6 months a year, just every now and again I’d love to rug up. A bit like sitting on the couch with a blanket, on a cold Winter’s day watching a movie.

  • editor says:

    You know what else I miss that your comment reminds me of Vanessa? Spooning. Yes, you read that right. :) It’s difficult to snuggle for more than 3 minutes in this climate!

  • Renee Sullivan says:

    In Pattaya there is Libby’s pumpkin and foodmart

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