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That’s Shanghai Magazine Couchsurfing Article

Thats Shanghai Magazine cover

Looka, looka, looka!

Last week, while I was attending a birthday dinner when a friend, Rocio, broke the news about me appearing on That’s Shanghai Magazine, March 2009 Issue. She described where she saw it and was pretty sure that it was me right there on the magazine’s Table of Contents page!

With excitement, I called Tess, a friend of mine who has been living in Shanghai for ages to ask if she got a copy of the magazine. Call it lucky but she was actually holding a copy of the magazine when I called. She didn’t, however, take a look at the Table of Contents so she missed me. With excited fingers, she flipped to the TOC page and bingo, she recognized me right away in a perfect exclamation, “Yes, it’s you in a wig! Who’s this guy with you?” Who else, but another hermana fabulouso, Ateh Danica.

In a demanding voice, I asked her if she could send at least, two copies of the magazine—which she willingly obliged—afraid that I’d curse her to 10 years of bad sex! Hahahaha!!! BIG THANKSSSSS, TESSS!!!!

Related: Travelling with a RAINBOW WIG

Below is the article from this site.

Shanghai’s couch surfing community

Written by that’s Shanghai
Sunday, 08 March 2009

A unique online travel phenomenon has finally arrived in town We all know that traveling around China isn’t always the easiest task, even if you do speak Chinese. But imagine this: You book a train ticket, search the CouchSurfing website, find someone who fits your personality, then stay in their spare bed, for free. “Not another social network gimmick,” we hear you groan – but let us explain. 

Yes, it does sound like something aging hippies and skint students would be into, and maybe it repels many of our decadent Shanghai sensibilities, but as a backlash to the credit crunch climate this alternative traveling fad has suddenly become massively popular – and as open-minded modern Shanghai folk we are leading the way for China’s Couch Surfing community.

This non-profit organization has over a million people signed up around the world, aged anywhere from 18-89, and over 1,600 new members are joining every day. Of their membership pool, a measly 6,000 are signed up from China, but with 1,320 of these in Shanghai alone. The average age of a couch surfer is 27, but don’t be fooled into thinking it’s only for the young; there are actually 199 members aged between 80-89 – and whom you choose to stay with is entirely up to you.

The concept was created by Casey Fenton, 31, from the United States. He planned a trip to Iceland but, after buying the plane ticket, realized he couldn’t afford the accommodation. He found the University of Iceland’s student directory online and e-mailed 1,500 people, asking them if he could stay. “In 24 hours I had between 50 and 100 people saying, ‘Yeah, come stay with me!'” he recalls. “At that point I had the opposite problem. Who should I stay with?” It turned out to be one of the best trips of his life.

The real couchsurfing selling point is not the free accommodation, but the chance to connect with people and experience a unique view of local culture. The ideal situation is that you spend time with locals who know the language and the area and who can show you places that are not in guide books. “It’s not only about hosting or being hosted; it’s about having a reference,” says expat couch surfer Dani Fog. “It’s great to have a native reference from the place where you are traveling, perhaps for the first time. This offers an endless source of first hand information, and if you’re traveling solo, it helps you feel safer and not so alone.”

Couchsurfing is full to the brim with travelers’ testimonials. “One great thing with CouchSurfing is how many great friends and great people you get to know,” says Nicolas Jadot, from Canada. But, it works two ways – you should be prepared to put people up at your apartment too (though you choose when to say ‘yes’ to hosting a couch surfer). In exchange for your hospitality people are asked to be courteous, and to try and give a gesture of thanks by perhaps cooking a meal or cleaning up.

“At some point, trusting others and being trusted becomes something as natural as it should be,” says Nicolas. “Getting to know each other shouldn’t be complicated or scary, but plainly a part of ourselves.”

Not all the feedback is positive, mind. George Thomson, from Scotland, felt unsatisfied when he hosted a surfer here in Shanghai. “After hosting a few very friendly and outgoing people who bent over backwards to seem appreciative of their stay, we had a couple of people who just kept themselves to themselves and exploited the cheapness. I suppose when someone stays in your house you assume they will be eager to get to know you and the city, but that isn’t always the case.”

There’s also, of course, the underlying issue of safety. Couchsurfing.com has taken measures to make the service as safe as possible. They have a reference system in which people can record their experiences; so far a massive 1,708,474 people have had a positive, safe experience. Users have different levels of trust in the couch surfing world and the more times you surf or host (and get a positive reference) the higher your score gets. The super-certified members have volunteered theircredit card information, which is kept securely but acts as a form of identification and insurance to other users. And, as far as we can tell, nobody to date has been invited to stay at someone’s house and then shown to a secret dungeon.

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