1. Stray cats and dogs (except for when they’re chasing you down the street, snapping at your heels)
2. Cold showers
3. Being sweaty and dirty
4. Being ill: the heat, the food, the alcohol – just head to the pharmacy
5. Squat toilets (not for Charlotte)
6. Unidentified meat (is it pink? No? Then eat it.)
7. Being itchy (sunburn, bites, sweat, salt, bed bugs and allergic reactions)
8. Turning up to your prepaid hostel to discover that it’s disgusting (there’s always the beach)
9. Asking for a mild curry but it still blowing your head off
10. Getting ripped off (we know your game, give it a rest)
We’d been told about couchsurfing by some fellow backpackers who couldn’t speak highly enough about it, couchsurfing being their favourite way to travel. For those of you haven’t heard of it before, it’s a concept whereby people let travellers stay for free in their home. These people are the hosts, and the person visiting is the surfer. It’s an amazing way to meet local people and experience a place beyond the travel guide – and of course it’s a great way to save money.
The couchsurfing community is full of like-minded travellers and generally those who surf will also offer to host people when back in their home country. It’s a way for people with limited funds to travel and experience the world. In some areas where people have little money and cannot travel out of their home country, they can host someone from another country and still have the experience of meeting people from different cultures, practise their language skills and learn about other places. Many hosts take part, however, to meet lifelong friends and to offer support to travellers.
We were pretty excited about our first couchsurfing experience and were unsure what to expect. We set up our profiles on couchsurfing.com and started searching for people in Koh Samui. We saw a host with loads of brilliant reviews and the most beautiful, glamorous home. As first-time couch surfers we had no reviews, and as there were two of us we were slightly more awkward to host. We also acknowledged that this couple were likely to get loads of requests from surfers on a daily basis, so when we sent our request we didn’t hold out much hope.
We could not believe it when we received a response asking if we were available the following weekend, as they’d be able to host us, and if the weather held up ‘we could go out on the boat’. Our only reservation was that it seemed too good to be true…
It’s finally happening. After five years of dreaming, scheming and a lot of talk… we’re doing it. We’re jetting off into the unknown, leaving our current lives behind. We’ve given notice on our flats, quit great jobs and are saying farewell to everyone we love, leaving us with a few choice possessions, limited money – and two one way tickets. Scared? Pretty much. But that definitely adds to the excitement.
One week today we’ll be on a plane to Bangkok. We want to feast on everything Thailand has to offer (within a tiny modicum of reason…) then after that, who knows? Stay tuned…