The day of the big earthquake in Chile we were sitting in a hostel dining room in Uyuni, Bolivia when Nico recognized a Chilean accent. He leaned over to ask the couple if their family was fine and if they had any news about the earthquake. We spoke with them for a few minutes and discovered that we are all the same age and that they live in Santiago de Chile. Augustin offered for us to stay with them when we visited and we exchanged contact information. When we arrived in Santiago, Augustin had arranged for a taxi to pick us up and even had dinner on the grill. They have a lovely home on the 25th floor of a great building with a clear view of the city and mountains. It would have been fun to spend more time them, but I am grateful for the evening we spent together. They are a perfect example of why talking to strangers can lead to beautiful encounters.
Jeong Ah Seo and her family were warm, inviting, and completely made my time in Busan. We shared food together and wonderful conversation about her travels with her son. You couldn't find a kinder soul!! She let me try on her traditional wedding gown and gave me a traditional Korean mask to paint. She and her husband belong to a group who play traditional Korean instruments and enjoy sharing their culture with others. This family is an excellent example of what is so special about couchsurfing!
Yongho provided a warm and comfortable haven to come back to each night. He was very busy between teaching Korean Literature and taking online courses for his masters, but he managed to spend some time giving me information about Seoul. He is a funny person and gave me an excellent answer to why he hosts surfers. He said, "I had an extra mattress and it was too heavy to carry outside, so I decided to host." Absolutely brilliant. When I asked him what his dream job would be he said, "A Saudi Arabian King's son. Kings have to work too much, but princes can play." I hope this travel loving Korean can come to the Pacific Northwest someday.
Eric hosted Kat and I in Kuala Lumpur. He is a very passionate man and is currently working on a project to encourage others to live sustainably. He taught us a lot about Malaysia and showed us some excellent restaurants. Thank you Eric!
Takao continually surprised me. He showed me videos of his gymnastics routines in college and told me about his 5 month plan to learn Spanish in Spain and South America. He is a talented and open person. On top of just being cool he was also an excellent host. He assisted me so much and made my transition from Japan to Thailand so much easier. I wish him the absolute best!
Van is currently working on her MBA in Kyoto. She is originally from Vietnam and is such a ball of joy. She is so full of life and excited to share food and time with people from other countries. I greatly enjoyed my time with her and hope to meet up with her in Vietnam in Feb.
Ko kindly took us all in on our return trip to Kyoto. He had expected just Tim, but was very welcoming to us all when our other host was busy. He just returned from his own three week trip to Thailand and Cambodia. He had interesting stories and won me over by taking us to a vegetarian restaurant.
Taitsuke and his wife hosted us for five nights. She was very friendly and joined us for the Edo Tokyo Museum. We had a few odd cultural moments. This was definitely the first time couchsurfing didn't feel very organic. Regardless, we are very appreciative.
Mizuki and her wonderful family! They have a beautiful home near Shosenkyo Gorge and were incredibly welcoming. Mizuki herself is very impressive and speaks English as if she were a native speaker. She spent a year teaching Japanese in .... Portland, Oregon! What are the odds. We had two great evenings discussing her time in Portland and traveling in general. One afternoon we came back early and her father laid out an impressive lunch of sashimi and tempura. Their family has owned the store next to their house for three generations.
Thank you so much for giving us such a wonderful cultural experience!
Mercedes was a very enjoyable hostess and I wish I could have spent another few days in Kanazawa! She is from Kentucky and is now teaching through the JET program. It was fascinating learning about the JET program and hearing about her background. She is studying Japanese, Chinese, and French. I was so impressed by her drive and dedication to her dreams. I hope she is successful in landing a job with the State Department!
Please stay in touch Mercedes! Thank you so much.
This is Miho and her beautiful daughter. Miho and her friend Midori live together with their husbands and children. Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of both families together! They picked me up from the train station and cooked me dinner/breakfast. Their company was so enjoyable and I absolutely love both their son and daughter! I am impressed by how excellent these mothers are and am inspired to do as much as they do for my children in the future.
I wish you and the kids the best. Thank you for your excellent hospitality!
This is Shutaro. He is one of the most special hosts I have met. One day I came home to Japanese wine, beer, sake, and dried squid. He wanted me to try local products. He is a very kind soul and spends a lot of his time volunteering and helping others. I greatly respect his passions and hope that the future allows him to pursue them. Thank you for such a special experience and for your excellent company!
Yuki recently paused his studies at Doshisha University in order to assist refugees in Japan. His goal is to provide them with Japanese lessons and assistance getting jobs. Before he starts school back up he will drive a motorbike the length of South America! He kindly hosted all three of us and spent a day showing us around Kyoto.
Taiwan Surfers and Hosts
This is Steven and Erica's family. They had accepted my couchsurfing request and ended up housing Tim instead. They were so incredibly helpful and friendly. Steven drove us up into the hills outside of Yilan, so that we could visit a famous waterfall. They also picked us up from the Traditional Arts Museum and had us join them for dinner. Steven is a doctor and Erica is a stay at home mom. Both of them showed a lot of interest in our travels and made Yilan a very special experience. Their children were also sweet and so well-behaved. Maybe we will have to meet at Disneyland some time soon :).
Yuche Kuo Kuo (James) hosted me in Yilan. He is the same age as I am and recently graduated from a university in Taipei. A year and a half ago he opened his own coffee shop, which I was fortunate to visit. He took me to a free hot spring, hot pot, and walked me around the city center. It was very obvious that he is passionate about the environment, free-trade products, and politics in general. Even though neither of us is fluent in the other's language, we were able to connect and had some lovely conversations. I wish him the best with his business!
Shihlong is a kind and generous man. He showed me great hospitality and is the host to beat. It was a pleasure chatting with him over several meals and I hope to share more with him in the future. Thank you for welcoming me into your lovely home!
Shauna and Kurtis hosted me in Kaohsiung. They were so down to earth and easy to get to know. They are both from Canada and had only been living in Taiwan for 6 months at that time. I joined a potluck at their house and got to spend an evening with their friends. I am really grateful for my time with them!
Karoline is a down to earth and easy going person. She stayed on my couch for 3 nights. We shared food, Jiufen, and the hot springs. We instantly bonded and I truly plan on visiting her in Germany someday. Thank you Karoline for the memories. You are special.
Meet Christine! She hosted me for 5 nights while I was in Hong Kong. She allowed me to stay in her beautiful home, took me to the 10,000 Buddha Temple, introduced me to her boyfriend and friend, and took me to eat some excellent food. I love HK and she was able to teach me more about the history. Thank you so much Christine!
This is Sterre. She is from the Netherlands. I was walking down the street in Hualien looking for a hostel and she came skipping down the street. She asked if I was looking for a hostel and I said yes. So she said, "Follow me!" It ended up being the wrong hostel, but we had dinner that night. She ended up surfing my couch when she came back around to Taipei. We spent 3 lovely days together. We went shrimp fishing, watched The Way and 101 Dalmatians, and laughed. I was so impressed by her joy for life. At the rip age of 18 she spent 8 months traveling around Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, and Thailand all by herself!!! I hope to walk El Camino with her in the coming years.
I spent 5 days in Penghu. Liya was an excellent host and made the experience so fulfilling. Her family owns a fish shop and exposed me to so much great food (brown sugar sponge cake... yummmmm). Liya is a worldly person who has lived in London and Shanghai. As I type this she is booking a train ticket from Taipei to meet me in Tainan! I am so excited to see her again! Thank you for taking me windsurfing and introducing me to all your friends on the island.
Krishdga the Glorious - Where to begin to describe Krish. She surfed my couch for 7 nights. A beautiful once in a lifetime friendship was born that week. She is a very open-minded and spiritual person. She has taught me a lot about self acceptance and sending out positivity into the world. I ended up visiting her in Hong Kong for 5 days several months after we first met. I can't wait to see her again later this year! Thank you Couchsurfing!
Our first host on this trip was Stephy. She lives in Chiayi and was our jumping off point for Alishan. She lives with her brother and provided us a warm place to stay. She made us breakfast each morning and was really excited to practice her English! All three of us stayed with her for two nights.
Meet Anne! From the moment we met her she was a high energy and true friend. She did everything she could to make us feel at home. She guided us around the city and taught us so much about Tainan. I am so thankful to her and her family. They are what made Tainan so special.