I’m a couchsurfer. What that means is that when I travel I meet up with, and often stay as a guest in the homes of complete strangers who I find through the website couchsurfing.org. That might sound like something of an unsafe activity, but in the three or so years that I have been a couchsurfer I’ve met a fantastic array of people and made some true and lasting friendships.
It’s Good Friday and I’m with a group of couchsurfers posing for a photograph in front of the Christmas Tree that still stands in the living room of local couchsurfing host Tracy’s apartment. “I like it. It looks pretty.” She tells me when I ask her if it is indeed a leftover from the festive season.
Gatherings like these are fairly ordinary for couchsurfers. Like any other such party, we brought along food and drinks then sat around chatting and drinking until the small hours of the morning.
The thing I particularly value about couchsurfing is that while you might arrive in a city alone, even if you’re not staying in the home of a couchsurfing host, you can often meet up with fellow travellers or locals. Hosts are often able to give you inside tips or places you might want to see or even avoid.
I’m currently staying in Singapore with Yolande, a fellow couchsurfer who stayed at my place in the UK back in 2009. I’ll also be spending time here with locals Navin and Isha, two great people I met in Sydney on my first day as a couchsurfer. While the couchsurfing website makes no reciprocal demands, it’s fantastic to arrive in a far off place and see a familiar face or two.
Seen in the picture from the left. Top Row: Gigi, Tracy, Nick, Joule, Kenny. Bottom Row: Me, Su, Yolande, Dinah, Tracy, Mr Darcy, Julie.