My definition of a traveler is someone who seeks out and finds themselves engaging in real cultural experiences. It’s someone who isn’t afraid to get off of the beaten trail and go where the tourists tend NOT to go. It’s about learning from the locals and seeing what it’s like to live in their shoes. What better way to do that then by Couchsurfing! For those of you haven’t, Couchsurfing is an international non-profit organization where travellers all around the world share hospitality with one another. In other words, you get to meet people from all around the world and stay on their couches or they can stay on yours for free! Pretty cool, huh?
I first heard about this interesting concept through a fellow traveler who couch surfed his way across Europe for a few months. After hearing about his wonderful experiences, I was immediately intrigued with the idea of staying on a strangers couch for free and experience a town/city through a locals eyes. Most importantly, Couchsurfing allows you to make lifelong friends from all around the world. Now, my place in Toronto has always been a hub for foreigners and friends who needed a place to crash for a few days so, the idea of being a host isn’t unfamiliar to me. However, I couldn’t wait to give this Couchsurfing thing a try during my long adventure around the globe. So, I did and that is how I met Arie Wicaksono.
I messaged Arie from Singapore only six hours before my partner Siya and I would be flying to Jakarta, Indonesia. I asked him if we could spend the night on his couch and within minutes he responded to my message letting us know we could stay with him and that he would pick us up from the airport. We arrived at the airport at midnight where Arie was waiting for us. He drove Siya and I an hour from the airport to his house where he gave us not just a couch, but our own room for a couple of nights. Arie made our first couple of days in Indonesia very enjoyable. He gave us a long tour around Jakarta, took us to try some traditional Indonesian food and even bought us a fruit called Durian to try. He was a wonderful host and made my first Couchsurfing experience a great one. Arie’s father even offered for us to stay at their other house in another city! Arie and his father are both wonderful people, and I know we will see each other again someday.
I plan to “Couchsurf” at least once in every country I visit, not only because it’s fairly good on the wallet, but because it’s a great way to make local friends and really learn about a new culture. I highly recommend that you all give it a try someday.