Couchsurfing

It is Sunday now, the clock moves slowly forward. The wsahingmachine is humming and I am satisfied and happy with life. It has been a superb weekend.

There is a website online that a brilliant someone has come up with, where people worldwide can exchange contacts to find somewhere to live when they’re traveling. This page is called Couchsurfing.com and the idea is simple. You contact someone in the city or area where you intend to go and hopefully get a chance to sleep a few nights on the couch in their home, so that you do not have to spend lots of money on accommodation.
You also get the chance to bypass hotels and the typical tourist traps and get to know the real city and some peoples everyday life.
I have heard of the idea before, but it was only just now, preparing for my trip that I thought it could be interesting to try it out. So therefore I signed up, without really knowing that I would soon get lots of requests by people who wanted to stay on my couch.
For some reason it never struck me that there would be lots of people on their way to Stockholm, who needed a place to stay and who also would contact me who hardly have any references from previous users.
I was wrong.

The whole idea of saying yes made me nervous. I’ve always been a bit nervous in similar situations, and to host someone in my own home?
The first requests I declined more as an reflex. Then came Joana Mendes. A request that fit perfectly into a weekend when I actually had time. And she didn’t look too dangerous either.

Last Thursday we met in Sundbyberg, for a guided tour to my apartment. And over the weekend, we drank wine, ate food, had long conversations and also a rather quiet party together with Johan and Maria.
Joana is from Porto in Portugal and is studying Graphic Design. At the moment, she is studying a semester in Rotterdam in Holland and on her autumn holiday, she took the opportunity to travel to Stockholm to see “Venice” of the North. She took the opportunity to see some art exhibitions in the city, an area of interest I can’t say I know much about although we did share an interest in photography and vegetarian food.

It’s very brave to go alone to a completely different country to sleep on the couch of some unknown person, but I’m glad she dared, for it has been a very pleasant meeting with a friendly and genuinely interesting person.
Although it is impossible to know who you might meet in these situations, it has certainly aroused my interest in CouchSurfing and my upcoming trip.

Now I sit here after a lovely weekend which was filled with the best I know. Wine and conversation. What more would you ask for in life?

Joana
Joana

The trip is manefesting

reserutt1

For those of you who didn’t know, I have decided to take off for 10 months, starting on 1st of February, to travel around Southeast Asia, the U.S. and Australia.

The trip is starting to take shape. The details might change many times, so this is the approximate dates / time.

February 1 – Meeting up with Peter in Mumbai
February 8 – Moving on to Chennai with Peter to visit Uma who lives there.
February 20 – Thiruvannamalai where I’m considering renting an apartment for about a month.
March 20 – Further on to the north, probably along the west coast, Goa etc. up to New Delhi and Dharamsala.
April 10 – Tour of northern India; Agra (Taj Mahal), Varanasi, Lucknow, and if it goes well Bhutan. Perhaps a visit to Burma and the city of Mandalay?
1 May – Northern Thailand, Islands in eastern Thailand, perhaps even Laos / Cambodia.
June 20 – Down to Phuket to meet up with my parents, my sister and her boyfriend to hang with them in a rented house for about two weeks. After that, further on south through Malaysia to Kuala Lumpur.
July 15 – Fly to San Francisco to visit my friends who live there.
August 10 – Flight to Sydney to meet my sister for a few weeks or so, and then I travel around in Australia and maybe working a bit on different farms or the like until I go home at the end of November.
December 1 – Back to work!

Some tips on what to do, visit, or similar in these areas? Write a comment.

Stepping out of your comfort zone

This Summer I went to Way out West.
I wasn’t certain I would go, because it would cost some money and it is located in Gothenburg, which means, other than the ticket to the festival, train tickets and someplace to stay.

Since I did not want to spend a lot of money on accommodation, I put out a question on facebook if anyone knew someone I could stay with, and to my delight, a friend, Anneli said that I could stay with her if I wanted.
Anneli and I have known each other for about ten years, but without really knowing eachother. We have met a few times and talked to each other a few times, but she was primarily classmate with a few friends of mine.

Thanks to her, I was able to go to Gothenburg and my stay there made me reflect.
I’m normally a person that can be very stiff with new people, especially if I meet them in their homes. That is why I usually avoid situations like that if I can. I usually stick to the convenient and simple way and would rather pay a bit extra to avoid being uncomfortable and troubling others.
If you have money you can buy a lot of comfort and convenience in our society. It is possible to live with very little friction, but my stay with Anneli made me realize something I had never thought of before.
Those who have no money are forced to find solutions whether they are comfortable or not. They can not choose. They are forced to connect with people, they are forced to improvise and find solutions. They are forced to live a life full of friction and even anxiety. They may not like it all the time, but it puts them in situations they would not otherwise have chosen.
Our life in today’s society has become so convenient and easy that we can opt out of friction. Everything runs smoothly, we never need to improvise or find emergency solutions. But it also means that we can go through our lives without anything apparently happening. We never meet any human beings, we encounter just the man at the counter, the woman in the shop. We meet the one serving us and the one who manages everything behind closed doors. We never see the person. We do not need, for everything is a well-oiled machinery.

If I had paid for my convenience, I would have certainly had a good weekend anyway, but I would never have had the oppurtunity to meet this fantastic person. I would have missed the chance to get to know someone a bit better and at the same time challenging my fears to find myself in uncomfortable situations.
My limitations helped me to a richer life and to grow as a person.

Now that I am going away for ten months I will right from the start have too little money. Sure, I will still be able to do things and experience things, but I will not be albe to waste money on stuff but will have to hold back and find solutions. It makes me scared, but at the same time it makes me excited, to be able to meet all these people I might otherwise have avoided. It will put me in situations that challenge my fears and the comfortable life I normally live.

Ticket has been booked…

Today I booked the flight ticket.
There was little change along the way, when I discussed with the airline because I will stop over in South Korea and New Zealand

I  thought I might as well stay a few days there to see the place :). This is the result in the end:

February 1, Stockholm – Mumbai (Bombay) (India)
May 1, Kolkata (Calcutta) – Bangkok (India)
Jul 13, Kuala Lumpur – Seoul (Korea)
Jul 16, Seoul, San Francisco (USA)
Aug 6, San Francisco – Auckland (New Zealand)
Aug 12, Auckland – Sydney
November 29 (approx), Sydney – Stockholm

Now the question is, of course, what to do in Seoul and Auckland in a few days? Have not thought about it too much …