Sunday, July 17, 2011

When did we become so elite?

There was a recant discussion on our local Darwin couchsurfing group in regards to lazy couch requests, by that I mean people not reading profiles, no pictures or minimal data in, obvious copy/paste requests. It makes me wonder when we became such elitists. If people looked at me now they would assume that I was an expert in couch surfing. My profile is pretty awesome, great pictures, at least a hundred positive references from surfers & hosts. But once upon a time I wasn’t the person I am now.
My first ever CS request was back in January 2009. I had no idea what I was getting into and my intentions were all but pure. My boyfriend and I were driving from Banff, CA to Anchorage, AK to see the Iditarod race. It was March which meant nights were around -10 and way too cold to camp as we didn’t have the right gear. Plus being northern Canada & USA there was a lot of mining this time of the year and the towns that did have any accommodation left had the high rates of over $100CA a night! So my initial reason was because it would save me money. When I sent my request my profile was simple and didn’t even have a picture, of course that changed within a week but my first ever hosts Cynthia & Randy accepted me quite readily without that picture.

Nowadays I will not accept anyone without a picture of their face on the profile, I feel that with growing popularity couch surfing is attracting more and more of the wrong kind of people when I joined it was less than a million now its over 2 million people. At least if there is a photo of them on the internet there is less chance of them ripping me off right?

Going back to my first experience I may have started with the wrong intentions of the website but I left with all the best and have since given back 100x more than I took. So how can I judge a person for such incompleteness when I myself was guilty of it before I really understood the concept of couchsurfing. All it took was a taste and I was hooked. So that couple taking a chance on me made me the surfer/host I am today.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

They say you always remember your first

Sometimes its good, sometimes its bad. Sometimes its just a little bit weird but reality is your first time can often make or break you.

I'm talking about couchsurfing, sheesh people!

I've talked about my first time quite often. In fact it featured in my Alaska Road trip part of the blog.

So yea this post is being dedicated to Cynthia & Randy two amazing people up in Northern BC who showed me true hospilaty, genourosity and the real meaning of couchsurfing.

Firstly I can't deny the luxery of a Queen bed and our own room as a plus. I know a lot about couch surfing isn't where you rest your head at night but the people you meet and experiences you get but sometimes when your on the road its just nice to have that comfort. Some of my other places I slept were just as rewarding and all became part of my story. I have definitely slept in uncomfortable spots but I never found it negative as the positives were just to high.

They took me on my first ever cutter rally & sleigh ride. It was freezing cold but amazing to experience a local farmers tradition that not many tourists get to see and something I will treasure forever.

They also lent us their quads and it was fun to explore the streets via ATV. And to warm up we all jumped into the outdoor hottub beer in hand.

We finished the night with baked Salmon & Beer.

Imagine if I had been in a hotel, we would have had dinner, a couple of beers and gone to sleep instead I had one of those once in a lifetime weekends that I will remember forever.

So lucky for me my first time was above my expectations and inspired me to become the couchsurfer I am today, I have fallen in love with the project and the people I meet. Some of my best friends were originally surfers. I try to give first timers the original amazing experience I had, if not better ;)

Happy surfing!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Joyeux Le Quatorze Juillet

Sometimes I wonder what the liberation days are in other countries. I mean Australia Day January 26th is quite a worldwide event considering there are only 20 million australians about 50% of them are more than likely in your country. This means one crazy night of drunken fools in Aussie boxers, and flags tatooed on their faces running amuck in your bars! Ok perhaps I am a little guilty of that myself

What can I say the two Australia days I spent in Canada were more impressive then events in my own town!

If you look back at Australia day as a historical thing you would know its more aptly called "Invasion Day" as it represents the first fleet landing in Sydney Cove. A bad day for the local indigenous population whoose lives were torn apart by western culture. Yet still I have immense pride in my country despite its dark history (I mean really a lot of amazing countries have a dark past!) and am truly proud to be australian.

So today is Bastille Day Frances own National day and it makes me think of a bunch of frenchies who entered my life through couch surfing.

Morgan & Morgane, Jordan, Kevin, Julien, Alice, Eric Pierre & Greg, Eric & Letitia and a few more whoose names elude me. I wish them all the best for their french day and will end this with a video I created of the good times we had.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

THE Interhitch CAN COUCHinental Kite CRUISER

I'm gonna go ahead and guess you have never heard of the Beer Can Regatta? its quite unique to Darwin and run by a local charity organisation to raise money for various causes. I have to say one thing Darwin is well known for is their excessive consumption of beer! I had wanted to build a boat this year but ran out of time and energy and went to put it off another year. However a couple of eager surfers Taylor Tobias Martina & More banded together and ended up building a boat in just three weeks under the Couchsurfing name.

It involved a little over 3500 cans all donated from various bars around town and some probably consumed by the surfers themselves and around $400 of duct tape donated by Express Signs who also made the banner. There were two floating pontoons and a makeshift couch which resulted in the finished product THE Interhitch CAN COUCHinental Kite CRUISER!!

Now would it float?

Not only did the boat float

But it came in second, although the boat that came in first cheated!

Getting interviewed by the news for their second place win

and not only that the boat got the prime spot in the Northern Territory Newspaper with the ever enigmatic Kim Su front row..

About 30 couch surfers from around the globe and even a few hosts from Darwin came together to support the team and possible future boat building endevours. Watch this space perhaps next year we will come first!

Special thanks to everyone who made this possible and has definitely inspired me!!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

doesn't matter what time it is, something interesting can always happen.

The other night I was woken up at 1:30am in the morning to excessive shouting outside my window. Its a bit of a notorious hot spot with a lot of people walking home from Karama Pub drunk so I often keep an eye out for troublemakers.

Anyway this particular morning the cops had pulled over a white ute and were arguing with the driver who had got out of the car and they were saying "Chris get back in the car" over and over again while he was shouting "I'm not resisting" over and over again and "aren't you supposed to serve and protect" the passanger got out of the car and the cops yelled over "what are you doing" and he had his phone mentioning that he was making a phone call. Next thing Chris gets back in the car but flies across the drivers & passengers seat and out the passengers door and makes a run for it. The cops give chase one of them going back to the cop car to follow him and the passenger gets in the drivers seat and just drives off. 5 minutes later I see the cop car again just trolling the streets so it makes me wonder if the guys got away. I guess I don't really mind being woken up at 1:30am when its THAT entertaining.

So I'm telling the people at work and the accountant who is quite new says to me "Amanda I think your one of those people who attracts adventure" and now that I look at it my life is realatively crazy and crazy shit does happen to me and sometimes I wonder how I surive... its not that I attract adventure I think its that I'm open to everything and rather than sit home I'd rather be out there doing things. And maybe that means adventure who knows but really even the bad stuff I generally find exciting.

Now the Israeli boys were back last night and we went out dancing which was awesome because I love to dance! They are a great couple of guys and we have a lot of fun with them. They love hanging out with us and mentioned several times how we made their Darwin trip which I have to admit Tal was pretty drunk but hey I'm not one to ignore such praise even if its drunken praise!

As for tonight its going to be a little busy in our house. There is two american couples, a scottish guy, an english girl, Ilona my german sidekick, Heather and I and possibly the two israeli boys again and Nathaneal should be back tonight. Really its always a party at my house!