During my first 5 months here in Korea, I only hosted one couchsurfer–Mark–and that was nearly accidental. (Several hours of noraebang and copious amounts of alcohol usually necessitate a place to crash). Well, in the last month or so, business has picked up!
After a mediocre encounter with a finicky Californian, I’ve had three great experiences, and two in just the last week. Last Thursday I met a couple, Jon and Casey, from Leeds (England for my ‘Murikan audience). Technically Jon was from Leeds, and Casey from Malaysia. This was exciting because: a) I’m an Anglophile at heart and b) Leeds was where I first lost my couchsurfing virginity a scant three years ago.*
On Friday night we had a great time enjoying kalbi, traditional Korean barbecue, and I introduced them to the awesomeness that is makkoli, a Korean rice-based alcoholic beverage. I thought I might have made a mistake in ordering the makkoli when I first saw Jon’s face after taking his first tentative sip, but by the end of the meal he admitted the stuff had really grown on him. As a gesture of gratitude, they paid for the meal; it was not necessary, but it was greatly appreciated.
Jon and Casey explored Seoul for most of Saturday, but we did meet up for an F.C. Seoul match at World Cup Stadium. My boy Dejan Damjanovic (sorry Nick, he’s Montenegrin**) put two away en route to a 3-1 win. They departed on Sunday, but we had a great couple of days together; they were kind, considerate, and even helped clean up Sydney’s vomit when she got sick and I wasn’t home.
After two nights to myself, Christina, a Danish couchsurfer, arrived. However, meeting up was a bit of a hassle. She was about an hour late coming in on the subway (totally understandable, knowing how long the the trek from Incheon is). I gave up waiting after about 30 minutes, went back to my place, sent her an “if you have Internet access, please contact me” message, picked up a pizza for dinner, swung by the station for one last desperate look around…and miraculously she was waiting there in a Baskin Robbins.
Initial struggles aside, she’s also been a pleasure to host. She has a great sense of humor and has done well to live up to the standards that previous Scandinavian couchsurfers have set, which is quite high. Last night we went out for dak kalbi (spicy chicken fried rice), which she also paid for, and was again, much appreciated.
Since I began typing out this post***, I’ve received a couch request for next week from a German girl, Victoria. I apologize to Lena, my upcoming guest who is due in April 24th, you won’t even be my first German couchsurfer this month.
Being a regular host can be exhausting at times, invasive at others, but for the most part it’s pretty fantastic. I get to travel vicariously and meet all sorts of interesting and wonderful people from every corner of the globe.
** There are several good Montenegrin jokes, many stereotyping them as lazy. My favorite? “What is the world record for a Montenegrin in the 100 meter dash? 60 meters.”
***And before I finished putting the final touches on this post, I received another from Tobias from Austria. Sorry, Lena, you might not even be the SECOND native German speaker this month.