The Motorcycle Diaries: Staying with Staff

Staff in the Wild is a Couchsurfing program that seeks to connect the staff at HQ with the community at large. We’re hosting travelers, organizing events and will be out surfing around the globe. Request a staff member in your city!

NameAlex Paul
Role: Engineer
Hosting travelers from…  Liaoning, China
Couchsurfing makes me… a better member of our planet.



Why do you host?

I host to meet new people and learn where I should travel to. One of my surfers from New Zealand showed me a video of his time there and it really inspired me to check it out and visit him there.

What unforgettable moments did you share with your Couchsurfer?

One thing I will never forget about my guest Yiya is our impromptu motorcycle ride to the East Bay. We just sort of set out riding until we got lost in the hills. Along the way, we enjoyed some great sushi and spent a while discussing the philosophy of societies, comparing China to the United States, and especially the differences in how children are raised. We both learned a lot from each other about how Asian and American families approach a child’s education in different ways.

Sushi with Yija

Sushi and smiles accompanied our talk about education in Asia and the United States.

With our stomachs filled, we went along one of my favorite nearby twisty roads, and – by chance – discovered a new favorite place to pitch a hammock on top of a hill. Halfway there, we found some dragonflies and studied them for a solid 10 minutes. They had really cool metallic-blue reflective bodies, and interesting patterns on the wings. Some were completely transparent. Yiya must still have dozens of great pictures of them!

Alex and Yija

Curious to see what a motorcycle ride is like, we set out to the hills! (and in case you’re wondering, Yija was wearing a helmet for the ride, just not when we took this photo as it doesn’t flip out of the way!).

The best part was just talking with Yiya, and hearing about her life and her goals for the future. We talked about the importance of education (and discovered that we both dropped out), and came to agree that a commitment to continuously learning aggressively is the key to happiness as opposed to the more mainstream “I have my degree now, so I’m done learning, and it’s time to start working and adulthood” approach to education.  I admired that my surfer Yiya was so curious and loved to learn about pretty much everything.

Since we are both huge fans of nature, we decided to leave the city again for a hike in  a state park where we found some very friendly goats, sheep, and horses, along with a beautiful lake. The horses really liked us. They had eaten down all of the grass in their reach and acknowledged our feeding efforts with a look that seemed to say: “Oh, hello my new best friend”.

Yija and horse

“Oh, hello my new best friend”.

While hiking in the woods, we ran into an old acquaintance of mine from Mississippi. It might have been a complete coincidence but we decided to believe that Couchsurfing truly makes the world feel smaller and more connected than ever before.

How can you be a better host?

It’s sometimes hard to juggle hosting with the rest of daily life, but it gets easier with practice. I hope to get even better at spending as much time as I can with my future guests.

What does Couchsurfing mean to you?

Couchsurfing reminds me how interconnected we all are, and how people from a completely different location, culture, and lifestyle turn out to be so similar in their hopes and their fears. It is the best way I have heard of to connect people from dramatically different walks of life. It serves to enrich my life with a variety of experiences and allows people to have experiences that otherwise would be impossible. It brings a taste of the world to my couch.

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