My Couchsurfing Experience
Couchsurfing is is a hospitality and social networking service where members ask to stay at a local’s place for free. The members who stay are called “Couchsurfers” and those who offer their place are called “Hosts.” Members could also hang out together.
Couchsurfing is the best way to stay with amazing locals, make lifelong travel friends, or host travelers coming to your hometown.
How I learned about Couchsurfing?
I read about couchsurfing on a blog on how to travel on a budget, the author (whom I forgot T_T) wanted to try it but haven’t go the chance. Curios on what that was about, I registered and set-up my profile. Having a plan to go to Japan, I have searched hosts, read their profile and reviews and the experiences couchsurfers had with the;it got me so excited that it was a must do on my trip abroad.
MY COUCHSURFING EXPERIENCE
My first couch surfing experience has been this March 2018. I requested to stay 3 nights (Friday – Sunday) with a couple who I met via couchsurfing app, 2 months before my flight. They had agreed to host me (even if I’m not a verified member yet) and I couldn’t hide my delight. We were strangers, but we got to know more of each other as we e-mailed back and forth. On February, they asked me if I would like to go to Ghibili Musem; a museum dedicated to Studio Ghibili Fans. Since I admired their movies and learned that it was pretty tricky to get tickets on my own, I agreed to their invitation. Weeks before my flight, I was also given detailed instructions on how to go to their place either through a lot of stations or buses.
When I arrived in Japan, I contacted them immediately so that we could plan where to meet. On Friday, we met near the station, introduced each other and left my things at their place because I was off to meet a friend and they were off to work. On that night, we actually talked about a lot of things; our work, hobbies, culture and most especially about Anime and Studio Ghibili, which we were going the next day. I also gave them Philippine Souvenirs because I knew a lot of Japanese like dried mango (and it was expensive there). I slept on the living room of their mansion (what the Japanese call their apartments) and my things were just in the living room. I was so happy I experience a futon.
On Saturday, we went to Ghibili Museum and had lunch together, which was both a treat because they didn’t let me pay (ありがとう！). I went back late on the evening since they were busy. We talked again on the day’s events and where I’ve been to. After that, I also did laundry at their place.
On Sunday, I actually left the house late, but they were so trusting that I was left in the mansion (it’s what they call an apartment) alone and I was asked not to lock their door (since it needs keys). I went back early because we planned to have dinner together; so I actually experienced grocery shopping (I bought a few biscuits for souvenir – but insisted to include mine in their basket T_T they were so kind). I helped made radish soup, put the rice on the bowl and placed chopsticks, while they were cooking oyster and made Shabu-Shabu. It was my best dinner in Japan, it was so delicious and I was so full and my heart was warm with their kindness.
After that, as return for their kindness, I cleaned their mansion. I helped wash the plates and put it on the dishwasher, wiped the counters, mirrors and windows (but it wasn’t a chore since their place was sparkly clean).On that night they also told me something (and I was scared because they were a bit serious) – I actually slept the wrong way; instead of the comforter being inside its comforter case, I actually slept inside and instead of the comforter would be on top of me, I actually placed it under me – we had miscommunication and I didn’t do research well >.<.It was a bit embarrassing, but the silliness got me more so we laughed a lot, at my last night they helped me arrange my futon, told me directions for my next apartment (because I was going to Urayasu for Disneyland) and we said our goodbyes T_T since I was out early the next day.
Would I couchsurf again?
I learned a lot about Japanese culture; sleeping in the Futon, doing groceries, cooking and eating together, how Studio Ghibili is appreciated, festivities and mannerisms inside the house. It was a delightful way to learn more about a countryand a heart warming journey to know more about its people. My hosts and I were strangers, but if you probably hear us talk, you would have thought we’ve known each other for ages. It’s the magic of travel; making you in awe of a place thru its people and it’s with the help of couchsurfing; building bridges of strangers to friends.
If I were to learn and experience that every time; Yes, I would couchsurf at every country I’m going to explore.