I honestly don’t know if this blog post could ever do my first Couchsurfing experience justice, but I will still give it a try. I have read that a lot of travelers have used this hosting platform: some of their experiences were good, and some were not. Of course, safety is an issue here as you would live with someone you barely know in a far away place. It is a different take from the usual hotel accommodation we are all accustomed to.
To add to my uncertainty, it was not just my first CS experience; it was my first solo backpacking trip ever! It was something that I wanted to try for such a long time, so when a seat sale presented itself; I booked that flight. Destination: DAVAO CITY.
Truthfully, I was hesitant when I first signed up on the Couchsurfing website. It was months before my trip, but I already scrutinized my potential hosts. Since I am alone, I wanted to pick a female or a host family. I sent a request to a girl who lives with her family (I believe I would be able to relate to her as I am very close to my family too), and to a girl, same as my age, who has a lot of positive references from Couchsurfers.
Shortly after I sent the request, I got a confirmation from the second girl, Mae. I remember being excited and nervous at the same time! I will be arriving on a Thursday night, but I told her that my flight is in the following Friday morning as I don’t want to inconvenience her by arriving late at night (I actually planned to sleep at the airport).
THE DAY (OR NIGHT RATHER) HAS COME
But on the day of my flight, she insisted on knowing what time I will arrive and I couldn’t lie to her. The next thing I know we were exchanging text messages as she fetched me at the airport.
As we travel to her house from the airport, I remember thinking how crazy the idea was. In that moment, I still couldn’t believe that I was actually doing what I was doing. Her house was quite far from the airport. The road leading there was so dark, but I remember that she kept on talking to me the entire taxi ride. Surprisingly, I didn’t feel scared.
We spent that first night chatting about life, love, and travel. You sure couldn’t expect silence with two girls in one house! She drew maps of their village and the city proper for me. I was just so glad she did as I have zero sense of direction. It was my first time in Davao City so you could just imagine the disaster that would happen to me without a map. We slept around 3AM.
The next morning, I woke up to a freshly-cooked breakfast of garlic rice and tuna. I was so surprised; I don’t know why she cooked breakfast! When it comes to food, I am never shy, but the effort surprised me. Afterwards, we chatted until noon. It was unfortunate that she needed to go to work so she couldn’t come with me as I toured the city.
I also never took a taxi to get around, I used public transportation the entire trip (with Mae and Rosa’s advice, of course) so now, I can say that I am quite knowledgeable in their public transport.
I made a lot of friends during that trip and it was the most memorable trip I’ve had so far. I’ve learned that people are extra friendly and helpful to you once they learned that you are travelling alone.
Couchsurfing taught me how to trust again. It allowed me to make new friends 1500 kilometers away from home. For sure, there wouldn’t be any hotel booking for me for the time being. Thank you so much Couchsurfing!
Original post first appeared at www.pengandpaper.com