What if I told you that there was a website where you could invite strangers to stay at your house and take them around town at your own cost?
Good luck trying to explain that one!
If you really think about it, such hospitality is not an alien concept to Asians. I grew up reading stories of kind folks offering their roof and food to weary travelers. In return they get tears of gratitude, repayment in kind years later or robbed. What? To be fair it could go either way.
The point is, it is in our blood to be warm, giving and compassionate. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Couchsurfing is a community website where you could meet people from around the world. If you travel to their areas, you could ask them (nicely) to host you; then you could stay with them for as long as they would put up with you. If they had time, they might take you around town too!
I find this exchange of trust and generosity amazing, especially in this day and age where we lock ourselves up in fear of anyone who do not look nor behave like us. So I joined as a member, read good and bad stories about couchsurfing, told myself to take the first step and be proactive, didn’t do what I told myself to do…
… until this guy wrote to me!
Yeap, that was a cute Spanish dude cracking eggs in my kitchen. His choice of t-shirt was purely coincidental.
Daniel is a 30 year old underwater photographer and scuba diver from Valencia, currently based in Gili Trawangan. He was holidaying in Thailand then had to be in Kuala Lumpur for work. So Daniel surfed a few Couchsurfing profiles, saw mine, clicked on the link to my blog then wrote me a nice e-mail asking if I’d like to host him. I was available during the dates, he was the first person to ask me to host and his background check was clean. So I said yes!
Turns out Daniel was an active couchsurfing host before moving to Lombok. Back home in Spain, he’d have the most interesting people stay over and listen to their crazy traveling stories. If he was busy with work, his guests could take his bicycle out to town by themselves. That’s some high level of trust there!
Now he lives in Gili Trawangan where he takes underwater photography, teaches scuba diving and work on a dive centre’s website and social media. What a different life from mine!
As I was preparing for a home party, Daniel helped with shopping and what-not. He also made a delicious Spanish omelette for the party, which went down very well with my guests!
It was lovely meeting you, Daniel. You were pleasant, amiable and respectful, and made my first Couchsurfing hosting experience such a positive one. Cheers to that!
tl;dr – I invited a stranger to stay at my house and he didn’t kill me in my sleep.