Monday, October 09, 2006

CouchSurfing guy hangs 5 at my place

私の友達は群馬県から郡山市に来ました。 Couchsurfing.comのウエブサイトで出会いました。彼はとても頭がいいです。私たちはたくさんの同じ本を読んだことがあります。わたしはダンさんの福島県の友達を知っていました。ビックリ! トンカツのレストランへ一緒に行きました。

Saturday marked my first experience with "The Couchsurfing Project" which is a website for people who love to travel, but either lack a budget or show interest in seeing and meeting people 'off the beaten path.' I had made an account several months prior, anticipating surfing couches from time to time in Italy. For reasons I cannot entirely recall, I never did get that opportunity, but I never deleted my account. And last week, I got my first request for someone to come and visit me.

The concept behind the Couchsurfing Project is very simple. You sign up, and then request to surf someone's couch when you are traveling. You have a profile page that tells a little bit about yourself, so they can decide if they want to host you or not. This is Daniel's profile. You can also pick and choose who you wish to stay with, if you think you would get along better with someone else. You also get to say how many you can host and control a number of other factors. It is fairly safe too, because all communications are monitored, and it is difficult to host or be hosted until you have been "vouched for."

Daniel emailed me Friday as he was planning a quick trip to my area to climb Mt. Bandai, one of the more picturesque mountains around these parts. I picked him up at the station at about 6 and we went to dinner at a well-known Tonkatsu place in town. The food was excellent, and I'm glad Dan came, because I don't think I would have gone otherwise.

But it also turns out that Dan is not a complete stranger from the internet after all. He works as an English Teacher with the JET Programme just like I do. He came over at the same time I did and we discovered we shared some mutual friends. After the post-arrival Tokyo Orientation conference 2 years ago, he moved to Gunma-Ken, while I was shipped to Fukushima-Ken. We traded stories about our travels, experiences in Japan, and many other things.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to climb Bandai-san with him, as I was climbing another nearby mountain with my Japanese class volunteers and classmates. I failed in my attempt to convince him to join my class on another peak. So after he stayed, I dropped him off at a nearby station so he could climb Mount Bandai.

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