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I have in the past written here to please read the profile (In particular if you are a newbie), but still get lots of requests which clearly haven't done so - or complaints from people whose requests I have declined - so here is now the extreme summary.
I get about 40 requests per month and aim to host about one or two singles/couples/friends travelling together. I look primarily at the profile, read it thoroughly ( I will spend much more time on your profile than your message, I do want to know who I host in case I decide to), and then hit the accept or decline button, as I see fit. I used to spend much more time answering but don't as people don't bother reading profiles either (or worse, don't bother putting substantial information/photos and investment (references) even into their profiles), Couchsurfing having on the whole regressed into a kind of 'Hosting/Surfing Tinder-style swiping app' for academics/nerds with interesting topics going to conferences, travelling hippies on a world trip or potential dates (all of whom are interesting to meet, just the diversity - normal travelling couples, older people with interesting stories, good cooks, physiotherapists, historians, archaeologists, ... has greatly reduced, but then so has my time availability). A bit disappointing and a significant set back to the old times, but I can live with that and have started complying. For old times sake I keep my full profile below, but please advance receive my apologies, if you are an old school CS and are missing the classical courtesy of long worded declines etc. , please likewise don't bother to write me a long 'application' either.
a.) My profile includes profile maintenance recommendations and very transparently explains whom I host (and whom not). One of my key things to look for are a minimum of 10 references, the more the better, and the more hosting the better. The other item being the 'click' which happens though rarely. There are a lot of 'free AirBNB' attitude people now here on CS, and quantity and quality of references is the only effective test I have come across so far that separates the crowds.
After a number of complaints why I reject people: I still believe most of you are nice people, all clean, polite and capable of doing the dishes. Declining a request is nothing personal against you, it simply means your profile was not as appealing to me as the one or two people who I do accept every month, a habit I wish to continue for the next years to come. There is no right or entitlement to be hosted, because you are a nice person, and have helped people or even if you have a lot of references. A couch surfing request is an invitation to me to offer you a place at my house, and some I gladly follow up on and really look forward to meeting the person behind it. But even then only once or twice a month, as I am getting to that age where one does appreciate a bit of privacy for a substantial part of the month too.
b.) Please be specific if you are more than 1 person - in that case please include the profile links of the other person and state your relationship to the other person (e.g. husband, girlfriend, travel buddy from Thailand, school friend, army friend, friend with benefits ...), the other profile needs also to be fully filled out (text and photos), just not the same number of references. I just want to know who is coming to my house.
c.) I decline requests without explanation/ do not respond to messages, if the answer is already included in the schedule or the hosting requirements or travel tips. For that case the recommendation is to go to the Yesinn in Yau Ma Tei, you can check with Fiona on CS HK or with the reception +852 2771 8088 whether there is something still available.
d.) please check the schedule (!!!) for times, requesting for times when I am busy is a waste of both of our times. If something is marked as spontaneously, I max accept four weeks in advance, not later. I work office hours which means on the day of arrival I will be home around 7 waiting for you and you leave the apartment with me 830 am in the morning, as I don't have a spare key for guests and there are janitors in the front gate.
e.) for last minute ones have a look whether I posted a hangout. If so, we can meet up and if the conversation is fun, I will take you home and you will have the joy of a fully fitted guest room. If it is not, then not.
f.) I receive about 40 requests a month on 'Full acceptance' and host 1-2 people per month for 2 nights as initial commitment (used to have up to 6, but now the crazy times are over). So don't waste your time writing a long request, have a good profile and just write to me 3 lines of which days you would like to stay. A No stays a No, a 'Maybe' turns into a Yes with about 25 % probability unless otherwise specified (it is just a 'read receipt', as I try to answer fast). Please don't be upset if I decline, as said I only host about one in 40 requests.
g.) Once dates are agreed and I offered, please remember to counterconfirm by message, CS counterconfirm or getting in touch with whatsapp ! This is important as otherwise you are not in the calendar of CS and I might forget !!! If you do not counterconfirm within a week / until 3 days before the stay I will conclude that you are not anymore interested in being hosted and will feel free to cancel the offer.
Here is the very long rant :
1. Couchsurfing is not AirBNB, it is a platform for people to get to know each other by one staying at the others place. As there are now a lot of 'free loaders', i.e. First timers who just want to avoid having to pay for a hostel in Hong Kong, and therefore register here, as key criterion in my decision I now look at the number of hosting references (i.e. The number of times you hosted someone - ideally 5 or 10 or more) . - if you are unsure on how your profile looks - please see the CS guide in the My Home section, I have a detailed description on how to develop a good profile on CS which will increase your chances of getting hosted.
2. I have hosted about 80 people in 2014-2016, and I get now about 40 requests per month on 'Yes' and 10 on 'Maybe' and I host about 1-2 a month where I see really interesting profiles (either potentially really interesting conversation(see below), a hobby or interest I would love to learn about (see below) or romantic interest (see below)). I look at a profile which I read thoroughly, but then accept or decline without much tamtam (i.e. the accept/decline options on he mobile app plus a directions template for those I accept) . For your information, from what past people I hosted told me the range of ratios requests to responses in Tokyo/ Hong Kong or a similar city now ranges between 5 requests - 2 responses (well travelled girl 30 positive references) to 50-1 (average guy, 2 references) . This doubles in the crazy times such as golden week, silver week or new year. I thus totally understand that most people do not write tailored applications for Hong Kong, but send 20-30 just en bulk. Hence for me please feel free to use your Hong Kong request template or just state the 2 days (see below) you would like to stay initially and leave the pleasantries and spending any time you would write on the request better honing your profile. If I say no, then it just means that your profile was not sufficiently well maintained for me to get interested (please see below for the guide to profiles in My Home) or I already was hosting 2 people this month or the guest room is occupied or I am out of the country (see schedule) or something is likely to come up from work for that week that I am unable at present to commit for hosting for that week. Nothing personal.
3. I like interesting discussions (psychology, philosophy, ancient history, travelling experiences) and hearty people (infectious laughs, spontaneity, ‘banter’, british comedy – after staying a year in Brazil I came to love the south American positive view on enjoying life (epitomized for me in the small cities carnival and the book a caricia essencial from Shinyashiki) ). I also like Whisky and wine, specialty coffee and honey, and if you these happen to be your hobby as well, we can sample a bit. I make an excellent hot chocolate and can even give an open ear if the traveller blues happen to hit while at my place.
4. I host for 2 nights at a time, but offer for people to prolong if I am having a good time. But in general people are like fish - great - but on the third day they start to smell. There have been a few in the three years in Tokyo who I have gotten on so well with that they stayed for 1 or 2 weeks (several) up to 4 weeks (only one).
5. I never (!) ask for payment or anything, but if you are flying into Hong Kong straight I may request for you to bring me some stuff and I will insist on paying for it (i.e. no hosting present, but more like a shipping service). There are just some things like german cheese (Bergkäse), Japanese single malt whisky, Australian or New Zealand Honey, Vietnamese coffee or Indian Chai spices or the latest Bollywood DVD, that are here in Tokyo on sale at a 300% markup. Please note that if you offer to 'pay for your stay' by bringing these things as gifts, or offering services such as cooking/cleaning/tidying/acupuncture/ massage... with an expectation that this will secure your stay then couch surfing just stops being voluntary and is just AirBNB on a barter basis. Things can be brought or a favour can be done out of spontaneous gratitude or benevolence and then are really cool (I had a great surprise once when coming back to my place after work to a full meal, especially as I was really tired. That was just great. Likewise one trained physiotherapist giving me a 30 min intro to the differences of amateur and professional health massage, I just love learning from a professional), but when done in context of an exchange it ruins the whole thing.
So a 'hi I/we would like to stay for these 2 days' is perfectly alright - at least for me. Whilst hardly at all paying attention to long messages I very carefully screen the profile for interests / stories / photos etc and if there is not much on there I am interested in will have my result.
Basically - Couchsurfing is not free AirBNB - And as there are an increasing number of people looking at it that way, it also means that hosts now loose their patience with incomplete profiles and decline without major or any comments, myself included. I am a big fan of the 'Do ut Des' (give so that you may be given) theory, i.e. and this is also a part why I look out for the hosting references, if you have given your time or availability to others, then I am very happy to extend my space and time to you.
For other recommendations:
Alltherooms.com is a new kid on the block. Hihostels.com and booking.com and hostelworld.com are classics for hostels, all of which are safe. .
At high time (Hanami, Obon, silver week, christmas/New years eve) Hong Kong is booked out, and the CS volume goes from 40 requests a month to 60-80. Coming to Hong Kong then without a plan for accommodation is stupid.
There are several Couchsurfing meetups where one can meet fellow traveller and ask them lots of questions. There is also meetup.com.
I am humorous and love going to new places and meeting new people, something I have done far too little of in the last years.
I like ancient history, mathematics, music (trombone), musicals and in general my music collection, and reading books in cafes or bars, and over and over again interrupting the reading for that interesting conversation with a random stranger. Having a good time and a really good conversation with a glass of wine in my hand with an interesting and funny person -who if I had known them for a longer time would be a good friend - is for me the highest moment and what I do the hosting side of couch surfing for.
visited 37 states , I love Brazilian music, Bollywood, ‘Free Hugs for all’, Samba (though I am terrible at it), Indian Head and shoulder massage (Heaven on earth for 15 min and definitive plus if you can do it), good coffee, computer gaming (latest feats Dragon Age Inquisition, Mass Effect 3, Civ V and Europa Universalis).
Sapere Aude (bonus points if you have read up to here and know what it means without looking it up on Google)
Why I’m on Couchsurfing
I love meeting people and getting to know them in a short time while they are here. I have had phenomenal conversations, funny, deep, and in two cases almost turning into romance were it not for the rigid travel plan of the guest.
I take hosting ethics extremely serious, so obviously unwanted advances are a complete no-go , but two past couch surfers pointed out two very thoughtworthy observations:
1. A bit of frolicking and a few snogs (B.E. for kissing) can be excellent pastime after a few glasses of wine watching the skyline, if the other person is likewise inclined.
2. there are not many funny, intelligent and well-travelled people in the world to go around, and CS definitely has a much higher percentage of them than the average pub population, and if one ended up talking all night on life, the universe and everything, and then the other party also knows the one and only answer, life is too short to just put on the professional mask and bid a polite farewell.
I have couchsurfed in Eastern Europe and South America, but now being more stable in Asia, I have now the world coming to me.
Ancient history, mathematics, travelling, cultures, languages (both modern and ancient), psychology and philosophy (ancient greek philosophy, Existentialist, Yalom, Fromm, ...), getting to grips with my Nikon D7100 and lenses, learning about coffee, cooking (I have a Thermomix and love it)
- massage therapy
- video games
- craft beer
- ancient history
- big data
- ancient cultures
Music, Movies, and Books
Books: Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia, To Have or To Be, The Art of Loving (Fromm), travel books, Financial theory and corporate policy, Hull Derivatives, ...
Movies: Many, quite a cinemaniac. But I suppose the Fools rush in, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Star Wars, Star Trek, Keeping the Faith, Mary Poppins, My fair lady, Tatort, Loriot, many others
One Amazing Thing I’ve Done
2 months volunteering as maths teacher in Nepal
6 months spent in Sao Paulo including visit to Iguacu
Camel Trip in Rajasthan
1 month travelling the Silk Road (Urumqi/ Turfan / Dunhuang / Lanzhou / Xi An / Guilin / Chengdu).
Teach, Learn, Share
Studied Mathematics at University and thus should be able to explain a few things. Loved reading philosophy and psychology books in the last years.
What I Can Share with Hosts
2 people Brazilian hammock, great for the Japanese summer and long conversations
Rowing ergometer if you need to burn some calories
Pavoni Espresso and Bialetti Mokka
A reasonably sized philosophy and psychology library
Whisky, Wine and German beer to supplement conversations.
Countries I’ve Visited
Argentina, Austria, Barbados, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, China, Colombia, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Moldova, Myanmar, Nepal, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States
Countries I’ve Lived In
Brazil, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Nepal, United Kingdom