If you’re a member of couchsurfing.org, you may already know how awesome it is. For those of you who are not, I just want to stress all the amazing experiences I have had because I’m using it.
Traveling for me is an extension of real life—not some holiday I take for two weeks per year. I don’t want to be stressed out having to see certain sights or cram a lot into a small period of time. I want to visit ordinary places, meet ordinary people, see how individuals are living in certain places. I guess you could categorize it under slow travel.
I had the good fortune to have five different couchsurfing hosts in South Korea after my English camp finished. I was able to see different aspects of Korean society because I surfed with a Korean male, an American couple teaching English, an American male teacher, a Korean family, and a female American teacher.
I realize my experience was a little heavy on non-Koreans, but it’s still nice to get the perspective of someone from your own culture who has been living in the host country for so long. It’s a different, but still valuable insight into Korean society. But it wasn’t entirely on purpose; I ended up with the people that agreed to host me. And the fact is, a high percentage of the couchsurfers in Korea are expats teaching English.
But in the end, it doesn’t matter if my hosts are locals or not, it’s more important that they are friendly, interesting, and hospitable people—and they all were. And I thanks them for making my travels through Korea a richer experience.
Couchsurfing Korea by the numbers
Nights surfed: 13
Days traveling: 15
Couchsurfing hosts: 5
Cities visited: 5
Fellow couch surfers met while traveling: 8
Experiences I had because I was couchsurfing
- Climbed Halla-san volcano with a couchsurfer from Hong Kong
- Visited lava tubes that are closed to the public
- Hiked the Oreum (secondary volcanic cones) of Jeju
- Met a retired Haenyeo (female diver) in a coastal village
- Celebrated the Lunar New Year with a Korean Family
- Meet the community of foreign English teachers in Jeollanam-do province
- Went for a guided tour of Yudal-san Park on the mountain overlooking the city
- Visited the fish market
- Witnessed the pace of life in a small town that I otherwise wouldn’t have stopped at
- Participated in a “chicken Tuesday” night out with the local foreign English teachers
- Visited Damyang—the Bamboo center of Korea
- Went to a yoga lesson in Korean with my host’s mother
- Went to a Christian church service with my host’s father
- Ate a lot of weird shellfish that I wouldn’t have known how to order or eat independently
- Saw the Humans—a Korean Rock band play awesome covers of Guns ‘n Roses
- Wandered through the neighborhoods of traditional architecture
Are you on couchsurfing? Feel free to share any unique experiences you’ve had with couchsurfing project in the comments below.