Andrew’s world in Japan

andrew

Train ride to town

Andrew Artist & researcher based in KL since 2009, passionately exploring

the creativprocess &connecting with other creative people.

 Couchsurfi ng Lifestyle. A Tokyo Gathering. part 1

I t began with a simple conversation at a hostel in San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico. Social media sites like MySpace were still pretty fresh and new to me. Using Flickr, Craigslist and MySpace, I would reach out to other artists, musicians and travelers through emails, chat boards and private messages. Sitting in the shared area of the hostel, sipping some beers and chatting with other travelers I stated “wouldn’t it be nice if there was some kind of social media or MySpace like website catered to travelers.” One young woman said, “oh, but there is, Couchsurfi ng.” Not really recognizing what she meant, I took it literally thinking, yea, that’s what I’m already doing. In actuality, it’s the name of the website, Couchsurfi ng.org. Immediately I went to the nearest internet café and created an account.

CS scenic photo tour

CS scenic photo tour

Much the same way the conception of the Couchsurfi ng project came about after founder Casey Fenton emailed 1,500 students from University of Iceland asking if he could stay with them. From that barrage of emails, he received 50 offers for hosting him. Through that experience with sharing, an alternative way to travel the globe has re-emerged. Today it’s now a for-profi t company, but the sentiment remains. Several other projects and organizations have also arisen to serve other areas of this market.

My time in Japan (and everywhere for that matter) once I began participating in the traveler

Kyoto Karaoke

Kyoto Karaoke

network community exposed an inspiring picture. Pockets of people that normally have minimal time to break out of their daily schedule can reasonably engage with the transient traveler. Hosting and just being an informal tour guide almost creates a two-way travel experience. The host has the potential to learn about where the visitor comes from and potentially much more. They also karmically ‘pay-it-forward’ for their own future travel. Positive exchange breeds more positive energy. We all get to step beyond just a typical tourist attraction. Visiting off the beaten path neighborhoods and small businesses offers a unique vantage point. The host is thus not just a place to stay, but also a major source into the greater community. I’ve often received tips on where to eat good on a tight budget as well as directions tailored for my specifi c interests. To be continued.

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