Monday, August 17, 2009


Couch surfing has its own site. It is an idea that appeared on my horizons a couple of months ago when I heard a woman talking on a radio programme about her experiences of couch surfing in unusual locations, those close to war zones and other less travelled places.

To couch surf, you have to have a means of internet communication, so, even though the interviewee had walked some paths 'less well trod', to paraphrase a well known poet, (R Frost) there had been the technology to make the main connections for her journey. In essence, you connect up with someone who is willing to offer you a bed or couch (or even a floor) for a night or two, wherever you travel. Reciprocation is not a pre-requisite.

Two weeks ago, hubby called me just in time for elevenses. "Can you drop whatever you are doing and meet me 'here' . ... There's two young men I'd like you to meet." ......... "Is it wise?" I joked. "More urgently this time "Can you come and meet us I'll buy you a cup of coffee." ......Not an offer I could refuse.

I arrived and hubby greeted me; "I think they are looking for a bed for the night"....."who are?" I had a momentary panic, not sure why. A thoughtful-looking backpacker was seated at a table and I was pointed to the back of his companion, leaning over a laptop computer at the other side of the room. To cut a long story short, hubby had seen these two trailing down the road he was driving in, stopped and offered them a ride if they were going to the harbour, which they were. As it transpired, the two boys were seeking a bed for the night, but not with us. These two, from the Middle East, were couch- surfing their way around Western Europe, their next stop being an island to which they were taking a ferry.

This is where the system hiccupped. Their couch-surf space was not available till the following night. Ever intrepid, they had camping gear, their only problem being they had no fuel for their camping cookers, and didn't have any because they did not know what to ask for. Their other lucky star was shining, as hubby owns all the gear, and just the day before I had bought 5 litres of camp stove kerosene. They got 1 litre to go on their travels with.

We have since had regular updates from these two travellers, who say they are still smiling at the great experience they had meeting us and without the introduction of couch-surfing.


Vincent said...

So you did not have to provide accommodation to strangers, just give them some kerosene?

ZACL said...

LOL - We did offer to show these boys some of the local interest points, but they had planned to move on and the ferry was due to leave within the hour. They were just passing through. I guess if they had changed their minds, we could have provided some home comforts for them. As it was, the nearest to home comforts, was giving them the means by which to prepare their own nourishment.

TG said...

I heard these things are 99% fun and safe, but last time I saw on German TV that one girl was raped. They guy was registered at that website. I think he was even from Britain (middle Eastern roots tho) and the girl was from Asia. He behaved weird, he asked her to check his photos of his family, she was tired and declined. Then he became violent and raped her... Nevertheless.. a single accident, but that makes people uneasy. :(

Anonymous said...

i saw that report too and agree it was an isolated case so perhaps people using the site could employ a rating system and feedback to highlight the nicest & friendliest people to stay with?

Yuri said...

To me, it sounds a bit risky... ^^

ZACL said...

Hello, MKL, AX, and Tiger Lily. Particular greetings to Tiger Lily, who I have not met on my site before.

Every area of life comes with risks. It did occur to me that anyone with abusive tendencies would seek out all sorts of avenues, not just websites, in order act according on their impulses.

1. It happens in schools, we don't stop our children from attending them. We have become more risk aware and risk averse though.

2. Public swimming areas are another potential hazard.

3. walking home, or walking the dog in the park can be hazardous.

Do we freeze up (male or female) because we are afraid to move about, or do we try to take the benefits of life together with the risks?

There is a lot to be said for the martial arts training. :)

So far, the global reports on couch surfing are positive. As you say, Ax, a rating system would not go amiss. I wonder if there is some background surveillance going on from other avenues.......who knows?

I still think, on balance, thus far, it is an interesting scheme.

TG said...

As I said, 99% of these things are fun and safe. This was so far the only incident of that proportion. So, I'd also couch-surf, why not :) It's a great idea. Just wanted to clarify :)

ZACL said...

Indeed - I think for men, the situation is different. It was sad that the scheme was marred by this one event. I guess it will be focussed on.

Should you couch surf MKL, I wish you a bon voyage. It would be great to get your feedback while you travel.

Anonymous said...

it would be wrong for anyone to blame the website for what happened, sadly, a woman travelling alone is vulnerable almost anywhere.

ZACL said...

Life being what it is, your comment, is sadly, very, very true. It is attendant upon us females to take every possible protective measure we can, to care for our safety. Unfortunately, we cannot prepare for every risk element.