I want to tell you about my personal experience of Couchsurfing the world. In the late nineteen nineties I received a book that listed the 100 architectural wonders of the World, and as I had visited many places earlier, I started to "structure" my trips, and tick the list.
When I was planning to visit Lalibela - the rock hewed churches in Ethiopia -, I got connected with a young guy from Singapore, who, when advising me on accommodation options mentioned Couchsurfing.
It did not seem feasible at that point, but I did create a profile, and that happened to be one of the smartest decisions of my life, as I have had the opportunity to start Couchsurfing the world. By Couchsurfing the world I have got unmatched possibilities to see behind closed curtains, getting closer to people from Bangladesh to Iran, from Sicily to Albany, from Guam to Santiago de Compostela.
Places I have visited marked in red
One place I still want to travel to is a most difficult place to reach and that is Easter Island, in the South Pacific, to see the giant heads by the oceanfront. These were attracting me for ages.
So far I have visited 143 countries and 96 wonders on my list. My next trip in Couchsurfing the world will take me to Old Zimbabwe, the stone structures that gave name to a whole country of Africa.
My youngest host was a French university student studying in Pisa, Italy who took me to his favourite pasta house, the oldest was a Japanese tea house owner lady in Nara, whose couch was a tatami, just one floor above the tea-house.
I hosted a 19 year old Mexican tourism student who later invited me to Veracruz to make a marketing presentation at his university. My oldest guest was an American Airlines employee from New York in his late fifties who later fixed me buddy passes.
I was on a flight from Guam to Micronesia to see the stone structures in Pohnpey Island and I got seated next to a young Philipino guy, who was working on the Island. We had started chatting about travel and of course couchsurfing came up. He asked me, if I had a couch already. I told him no as there is not even one couch listed in whole Micronesia.
He answered me, "No, there will be one... Please come to our house, we shall create a profile together and you can surf our couch.” Later it turned out that the couch was his own bed he gave up for me, and he had to spent 2 nights in the room next to his brother. So by now I can proudly say there is a new country on the map of couchsurfing. The guy hosted already a few other visitors, and he even convinced other locals to join our community too.
When you do couchsurfing as a visitor you are like a parachutist, you land in the middle of a local community, you are not subject to bias "recommendations" of hotel staff, but you instantly become part of the local community.
One example can be Dushanbe in Tajikistan, where we stayed in a local family who shared their meals with us, sitting on the floor, or a sweet couple in Dhaka letting us playing with their baby. You are exposed to touching human emotions, you can just see on movie screens normally.
Likewise hosting a visitor from Thailand, who brings a bit of his own tradition to your home. Many surfers volunteer to prepare their traditional meal, happy to share their own travel experiences as well or passing you great ideas where to see the Nordic Light, how to book a train from Dar es Salam to Lake Tanganyika, widening your horizon day by day, couch by couch.
Andras Feldman, Budapest