The Kindness of Strangers
“Traveling is like flirting with life. It’s like saying, ‘I would stay and love you, but I have to go…’” – Lisa St. Aubin de Teran
My GCSE English teacher (and major crush) told me that a good way to start an essay is straight in with a quote, which I’m inclined to agree with. I like that quote and it fits this next essay (yes it’s an essay). I’ve had a backpacker epiphany; a game-changing fantabulous idea that deserves a ‘huzzah.’ Huzzah!
Now the thing I’ve been most concerned about for my impending adventures is that pesky transition from Thailand to South Korea; which you’re probably very bored of me talking about by now if you’ve been following. The problem is that my Thai teaching internship finishes in October and most Korean placements don’t start until about February. This leaves me four months-ish of bumming around Thailand, exploring, going on vision quests, partying hard, getting spiritual tattoos, falling in love, learning to scuba, developing buns of steel climbing great big peaks, you know the deal. There’s just one problem; I haven’t saved nearly enough money to do all this, which leaves me two options (or so I thought):
1) Try and do it all anyway and risk being back here in time for Christmas with an empty wallet and my tail between my legs.
2) Play it safe – Don’t really travel around Thailand after the internship but find a dirt cheap apartment and live like a church (or should that be temple?) mouse until I fly to Korea.
Herein lies my epiphany – I don’t have to do either! A few years ago when I was living in Cardiff I signed up to CouchSurfers and had a great night hosting an Egyptian man named Hisham who taught me the Arabic alphabet and told me great stories about all the awesome places he’s surfed and the people he’s met. Again when I was in Egypt I met an awesome Californian scuba-dude in Dahab via couch-surfers and high-jacked some of his travel-wisdom and again – more stories about the wonder that is couch-surfing. Have you guessed what my revelation is yet? I’m going to couch-surf Thailand. All of it. I will travel the country totally spontaneously for four months based purely on where people are willing to bestow their kindness (and couches) on me. I think this might actually be the most excited I’ve been thus far! I’ve got enough money that if I don’t feel very sociable or I can’t find a coinciding couch for a while I can stay in a hostel but even if I did that half the time that’s still 2 months of accommodation money saved. Can I get away with saying ‘huzzah’ again? I really want to. Screw it – Huzzah!
For those of you not familiar with CouchSurfers I Ctrl+C/Ctrl+V’d the About section for you:
“When you join CouchSurfing, you tap into our network of welcoming people worldwide. You can share your hospitality and experience your city through new eyes by offering travellers a place to stay on their journey. You can bypass the typical hotel experience by staying at the home of a local and learning about their culture. You can join cool and interesting people for anything from a bike ride to a party using CouchSurfing Activities. And you can meet up with new people, whether at home or while travelling, for inspiring experiences and new friendships. Imagine having an interesting friend wherever you go – whether that’s 2,000 miles away, or right in your hometown. With millions of members in over 230 countries and territories around the world, CouchSurfing is blazing the trail towards a better, friendlier world where people who are different from one another can find their similarities. We are a community, and we are a movement. If you believe that all types of people can share fun, trust, and friendship, then you belong here.”
*Ahem* huzzah! 81 sleeps.