沙發衝浪2個月經驗談My first time to be a Couchsurfing surfer
我的行程可以說是和沙發主人討論出來的，雖然我有看旅行書，上網找資訊，甚至也向去過該國的朋友見面諮詢。一但沙發主人接受我的入住邀請，我就會向對方請益「當地人觀點的資訊」。像我的Istanbul host就很熱心提供Istanbul附近值得造訪的城市(Bursa、Edrine)，他曾到希臘多次，連我在希臘停留的城市也是由他推薦(Xanthi、Thessaloniki)。不過最實用的資訊還是和host見面後，視實際狀況討論出來的。像我本來不打算去拜訪希臘的小島，在Thessaloniki host強烈推薦下，最後我在Corfu島很享受地待了6天。原先要接待我的羅馬host也提供給我不少義大利推薦造訪點，甚至還說可以載我一起去慢活發源城市走走，可惜後來他因某些因素得離開羅馬，我們終沒見到面。不過我還是靠義大利第一位host的推薦租到一晚才20歐元的整層公寓，渡過6天愉快的羅馬假期。羅馬之後的Pisa、Modena、Aosta都是被邀請去的，假如時間夠，其實還有更多其他的城市的邀請函。
Although I had read some books of the countries I visited, my detailed travel plan came out after discussing with my CS hosts. Once a host accepted my request, I would start to ask his opinions of traveling in his country. For example, my Istanbul host recommended me to visit nearby cities, like Bursa and Edrine. For he has visited Greece several times, he also gave me suggestions of Greek cities, like Xanthi and Thessaloniki. However, hosts would provide the most practical information after face-to-face discussion. For instance, I originally didn’t want to visit any touristic Greek islands, but my Thessaloniki host highly recommended Corfu, so I finally stayed there for joyful six days. Another example is my 20 Euro apartment in Rome. I told my Brindisi host that my Rome host couldn’t host me; he therefore contacted his friend who rents apartments to travelers. At last, I got a high quality stay with low price in Rome and enjoyed there for a week.
我的泰國hosts幾乎提供我「家人般」的照顧，抵達host1家時，沒聊幾句他就拿起吉他獻唱，然後邀請我一起去考山路逛夜市喝酒，很有台灣原住民熱情的影子。雖然因為工作的關係白天無法陪我，但傍晚一定會接到他的問候電話「今天好嗎?待會兒怎麼碰面?」，難得的休假就全天陪我。白天的時間大部分是Host2陪我，因為他已退休且樂意陪背包客造訪曼谷及附近景點，記得我們第一次見面是我早上打電話給他，詢問他有沒有空，結果當天中午就碰面了。雖然他不以導遊為業，但他實在是再專業不過的導遊，他的英文很好，每到一個地方就會深入淺出地介紹，路程中也很樂意分享我所好奇的泰國文化。有他的帶領和建議，我才會到寺廟夜拍，才會造訪交通不是很方便的Pottery Island，才會在我最不愛逛的Siam Center發現不少新鮮事。同行時我總幫他出飲食及交通費，因為在台灣這樣的伴遊一天必要價不少，離開曼谷的前一晚，他也很熱情地邀請我去看電影及享用豪華的冰淇淋餐。這兩位hosts在我後來的旅程中常發訊息給我”how are you now?”” I miss you!”，回台灣後更在facebook上常互動，成為我再訪曼谷必見的朋友!
My Thai hosts treated me as a family member and impressed me most. When I arrived host1’s house, he sang several songs with his guitar and then invited me to have some beer in bars. He is as hospitable as Taiwan aborigines. Although he had to work during the day time, I received his calling every evening after his work. He concerned about how my day was and we would definitely share the night time together. Host2 accompanied me during the day time. One day morning I called him for I felt a little bit lonely and he came to meet me very soon. He has retired from his job and was quite willing to meet surfers from different countries. Although he said he is not a professional guide, he always explained related culture information of every spots with fluent English. Besides, he was good at photographing; he took many good photos of me. Without his accompany, I would not get to the Pottery island (Koh Kret) and Ayutthaya easily or took night photos of temples. At my last night of Bangkok, he treated me a 3-D movie show and an ice cream meal, since I usually paid for his traffic fees. After I continued my European trip, I still often got their messages from facebook or emails. I think I would certainly visit them again in the near future.
Asians are more used to close relationship or I got too well with my Thai hosts; I had no similar CS experience in Europe except in Aosta, Italy. My Aosta hosts are a couple. They have traveled in Asia several times and quite appreciated Asian culture, so they treated me in Asian way, like taking me around, planning an one-day hiking trip for me, preparing good meals, etc. Thanks them for giving me wonderful last two days in north Italy. Other European hosts would give me traveling information but rarely accompanied me to go around during the day. Having to work was one reason and another reason was the definition of Couchsurfing. Some thought that providing free stay is the main point of CS. One host even told me once he left his keys to the surfers and went on his vacation in another place. I therefore realized why he went out for cycling or swimming without inviting me at all. However, when I directly told him I want to do something together with him, he was quite willing to take me out. One of my European friends suggested me that I should only expect free stay from CS. If hosts provided more, like food or chatting, they are all extra gifts.
我很感謝沙發主人們給我很多花錢買不到的行程，例如:Istanbul host開車帶我去他小時候生長的地方，去他朋友家吃可口的土耳其料理，半夜在Taksim區一起躲警察及催淚瓦斯、Xanthi host帶我去他們養蜂蜜的山區(吃新鮮的蜂蜜、認識很多親切的希臘人) 、Brindisi host開車帶我們到附近的古鎮及海邊游泳、Aix host帶我去戶外攀岩、Paris host帶我去他媽媽家渡假。絕大部分的沙發主人都會親自下廚招待或者請到餐廳吃特色料理。這次旅行除了大自然的美景，令我印象最深刻的就是沙發衝浪的點點滴滴，即使像被host養的貓攻擊回想起來都頗有趣，因為一個人旅行，hosts很多時候就是在地互動最多的人。
I had lots of good memories with my hosts. I don’t think I can get so many unique traveling experiences without them. For example, My Istanbul host took me to the area he grew up. Although that is not a touristic site, I appreciate his company and introduction. I will not forget the night we had great dinner at his friend’s home and went to Taksim area together. This was my first time to experience tear gas and run to escape the police. I was impressed by my Xanthi host for he shared his true life situation, like jobless and healthy problem in our first chat. I can not imagine how terrible the social situation is until his sharing. However, I like him and his friends, they are trustworthy and hospitable. They treated me fresh honey and lots of delicious salads. I appreciate hosts who took me to do outdoor activities, like swimming, hiking, etc. Thanks for their driving or I could not reach those natural places easily. Another unforgettable experience is visiting host’s family members. They were so welcome me and even gave me souvenirs. Even I have once attacked by a host’s cat, it’s still a unique memory to me.
I have encountered some hosts whose main purpose of Couchsurfing is sex, especially those who sent invitations to me. I don’t think having sex is a problem if both are willing. However, these hosts focused too much on sex topics. It’s hard to discuss other topics or develop friendship with them, so I prefer CS for only culture exchange. Besides, I have once pursued by a host who gave me invitation. He accompanied me as much as possible, treated me to good restaurants, and even bought things to me. I really had a good time with him but I didn’t want a relationship beyond friend with him. As he knew my mind, he didn’t treat me as before and closed his CS account. When I reviewed the pictures he took for me, I miss him but it’s a pity we can't contact each other anymore.
一些沙發衝浪的挫折經驗 被放鴿子。有些hosts本來說可以接待，但要去找他時又臨時無法接待。這是「最小」的挫折，因為我的行程很彈性，改變行程或花錢住宿就好。 其實我們聊不來。雖然我會挑有共同興趣的hosts，但也遇過實際見面時就是聊不太起來的。那個host第二天就提議我前往另一個host家，我也欣然接受。不過，我也有經驗一開始和host沒那麼多話聊，但我持續主動地打開話題，後來有些共同的出遊經驗，留下不錯的互動回憶。 當host同時接待多位背包客。一開始我不太適應，但在Pisa時和另一位背包客前往tower區，相談甚歡，幸好有她我才在那裡留下許多美好的照片。
Even though I had good interactions with hosts most of the time, I still had some frustration situations. First, some hosts accepted my requests but finally couldn’t host me. It’s the tiniest frustration, for my trip is very flexible and I could just change my destination or paid for cheap stay. Second, I couldn’t get well with some hosts. Although I choose hosts who have similar interests with me, I still couldn’t chat with a host very casually. I finally visited another host next day with his suggestion. Last, I was not used to share a host with other surfers in the beginning. However, I got well with a young female surfer in Pisa and had a good time with her.
在這交通便利、網路通訊發達的現代，和聊得來的沙發主人維持或繼續發展友誼關係並不困難。第一次見面是沙發衝浪的關係，再見面就是「朋友」了，記得我接待的Paris 背包客曾跟我說I'm sure we'll meet again somewhere someday，這次我就到Paris待在他家好幾天，幾乎每天都聊到半夜才睡，回台灣後繼續臉書保持聯絡。當有hosts表示很樂意再接待我，我一定會再去找他們…
I not only appreciate my hosts by giving handmade gifts or cards but also try to keep contact with them after my trip. I thought CS is a platform for possible friendship. The first time visiting is surfing but the second time could be real friends. My first Paris guest told me that he is sure we'll meet again somewhere someday. Not until half year I visited him in Paris and we had a great time together; we still keep in touch until now. When some hosts said they are quite willing to hang out with me, I’ll definitely visit them again!