I have had my Couchsurfing experiences since I was in Melaka. Back then in 2009, Jimmy always invited some travelers to his house. I saw pictures and posts on his and his roommates Facebook pages. I was wondering where all of these people come from? One day, he and one American guy joined my table when I was having a dinner in one mamak stall. After Jimmy, Lala too posted some pictures of her hanging out session with some Caucasian people back then when she was studying in Malang, and then May Ping and Mami Christy started talking about this Couchsurfing thing too. To add more, Nuel was hosting some other travelers too when he was doing his internship in Kuala Lumpur. I was in complete confusion so I asked them what is this all about. They told me the idea of it is to host travelers who need a place to crash. They will stay at your place and sleep on your couch as long as you let them stay when they are traveling around your city. I was still reluctant to the idea of it, is it safe, I wonder..
5 years has gone by, I decided to start being an active member of Couchsurfing community. I put aside the negative and reluctant thoughts and keep in mind that I am just here to make new friends in the most decent possible way. I thought this is also a way for me to utilize and keep practicing my tour guiding skill! So I started last month in January, in which I thought I would contact some travelers who come to visit Kuala Lumpur and take them around especially during Thaipusam festive. I really wanted to go for this special festive since 2 years ago but I missed both years celebrations. This year, I told myself, I gotta make it. I checked out Couchsurfing webpage and look for some travelers coming to Kuala Lumpur during Thaipusam date, but I stumbled upon an event organized by Couchsurfing Kuala Lumpur group, what a sweet coincidence, I didn’t think twice for joining the crowd! The more the merrier, they say, yes?
On the Thaipusam day, I hitched a ride with another Couchsurfing Kuala Lumpur member coming from KLIA airport. He offered me a ride since he was coming from KLIA airport by car. So he picked me up on that early morning of Thaipusam day and we went to KL Sentral together to meet another Couchsurfing members. There was also another person in the car with us, she is from the U.S., and she will be in Malaysia for more than 3 weeks. On the way to KL Sentral, we exchanged stories. Ibrahim told us some fun facts about Malaysia, I told them some stuffs about Indonesia and Malaysia, and Julie told us her stories about the countries she lived and visited and her plan in Malaysia. It was a great start of my real Couchsurfing socializing experience, I felt relieved, hehe..
Julie and I exchanged more stories over mixing sugar in a cup of McDonald’s coffee in a moving train, lol.. We did it without spilling the coffee, by the way! 😀 *clap-clap* She told me she lived in the Netherlands before and I told her that I planned to go to Europe next year. While, Ibrahim was just leaning on the train coz he feels restless, lol. We then continued our Thaipusam adventure together. The three of us climbed Batu Caves stairs with the Hindu devotees, snapped as many pictures as we could, overwhelmed by the crowd and the festive feeling. It was the first time for all of us to attend Thaipusam celebration, obviously it was for Julie. Ibrahim and I have visited Batu Caves before but not during Thaipusam day so the feeling is totally different. On any usual day, it takes only 15-20 minutes to climb the stairs to reach the cave. But, on Thaipusam day, it takes 2 hours to reach the top!!! Look how crowded it is. Phew!
After probably around 3 hours of our adventure in Batu Caves, we left the big Couchsurfing group for lunch before Ibrahim heads to the airport to catch his flight to Jakarta. Silly Ibrahim was supposed to drive to Little India/Brickfield which is just a mile away from where he parked his car but ended up driving around. He failed to get another banana leaf restaurant though because the restaurant is closed so he drove to Seri Hartamas. I tried some Sarawakian noodle, I think they call it Kolo Mee. I forgot to take a picture but it looks more like boiled mie telur (literally translated: egg noodles), beansprouts, minced chicken, a few prawns, and some pak choys (Chinese lettuce) served with soup/broth. Ibrahim had the same and Julie had vegetable popiah (something like lumpia that I post in my Semarang Trip). And this was how we look after our meal. Sleepy faces 😀
And so that was our day. Ibrahim drove to KL Sentral to pick up his friend that he is traveling to Jakarta with, dropped Julie in Kajang, and drove and parked his car in Putrajaya Sentral where he and Hafeez then took a train to the airport and I took my bus to Cyberjaya. Julie will be going to Vipassana meditation centre in Kuantan on the next day. Yes, you read it right, she is going for meditation.
12 days later, after Julie completed her meditation retreat, she sent me a text message. We met up in KL on Friday to attend Couchsurfing Kuala Lumpur Weekly Dinner in a restaurant around Bukit Bintang. I told her I’ve never been to any CS meet up so I want to experience how it is. I’ve been planning to attend CS KL Weekly Dinner too but they have it on Friday so I am never able to join. But since that Friday was a Chinese New Year and I don’t have work, I decided to give it a try. It was, again, a HUGE group of people 😀 We met a lot of people and made new connections. I wouldn’t really say friends as I am not sure whether we will stay connected to them after this meet up. Maybe we could if we would, we have some of them in our Couchsurfing friends already 🙂
*Jouelle on her cheong sam*
We called it a night as Julie began to yawn, haha. She’s still used to the punctual timing during her meditation retreat so 10 PM is close to her bed time. I showed her the Turkish ice cream before we headed back to KL Sentral as she was craving dessert after the dinner. The ice cream guy was doing his usual Turkish ice cream trick but it was a disaster, LOL. He keeps dropping the ice cream, i dont know why. He said the cone is not as good as it used to. Hmm, I notice it too, they have changed the cone. Anyway, their ice cream is really delicious. Worth your 5-10 bucks if you are around Bukit Bintang. The stall is located right in front of BB Bazaar. I will write a separate review of this ice cream when I make a visit there again, hopefully soon. We took a monorail and enjoyed our ice cream while she told me her stories during the meditation retreat, not noticing that we took the wrong train and I only realized it when we reach the last station ZOMG -_- I am really awful when I’m sleepy, my brain doesn’t function properly. Le sigh.
On Monday, Ibrahim dropped Julie to my place coz she doesn’t have a host to stay with. She has a host to stay starting Wednesday for a couple of days and I invited her to stay with me a few days before she is flying back to California. I had a spare bedroom that she can use coz my roommate was just moving out recently. I’ve cleaned the room and put on the bed sheet for her to sleep. Surprisingly, she said she will cancel the stay with the other host and decided to stay in our mini apartment for the rest of her week in Malaysia. Ozzy and I are more than happy to accommodate but we were worried if she will feel bored and lonely coz everyone is working and she will be home alone. And this is Cyberjaya, nothing much you can do here and it takes too much effort to go to KL from here. But she said she will be fine and she doesn’t mind at all coz she really just wanna relax on her last few days in Malaysia. Well, it’s Julie –she has attended few times meditation retreat where she was not allowed to talk, communicate, and do anything else other than meditating. There was no internet, no phone, and no TV in her meditation centre so I guess she really would be fine. Nothing much we could do together coz I came back from work pretty late, around 7 PM. We would just have dinner together, talked about random stuffs, then go to bed. Julie saw the Indonesian restaurant here and she would like to try. Since she is a vegetarian I introduced her to gado-gado (mixed of boiled vegetables served with peanut sauce) and, here comes another surprise, she really loves it! On some other days we cooked lentils and pasta and watched a movie while having our dinner. In the weekend, we went for a rock climbing that successfully gave sore all over my body, lol. On Sunday, we planned to go to a pub with some live music just to chill and relax. We met Ibrahim and Hafeez with another Couchsurfer from Russia who just landed in KL to enjoy the night in Backyard Pub in Seri Hartamas. Eka, the Couchsurfer from Russia, couldn’t stay at her host place that night so Ibrahim asked if I could host her. Well, Julie’s bed is a queen size and I have extra blankets too so I think it’s not a big deal.
*The complete gang: Hafeez, Ibrahim, Me, Julie, Eka*
*Ibrahim treated all of us Baskin Robbins, yumm yumm!!*
The next day, Ibrahim came to Cyberjaya again to pick up Eka and dropped her to her host’s place in Puchong (20 minutes from here). We said a short goodbye and she gave me a souvenir: magnetic calendar. It’s really cute and I don’t wont to tear it so I decided not to use it as a calendar and just keep it. Eka is a cheerful and expressive young girl, she lifted my body up when we hugged to say good bye 😀 Hopefully I will meet her again. She said don’t forget to contact her if I ever come to Russia. Good idea, I still know how to read Cyrillic so maybe one day I will look for a job in Russia, ha!
And 11th February is the day Julie flies to California after 16 months she is away from home. We left the apartment together in the morning at the same time I went to work. We took a bus together and said goodbye in the bus. I kinda feel regret, I should have just come late to work and send her to Putrajaya Sentral instead 😦 9 days flew very quickly and I wished she could stay longer here with us. In the beginning, I was worried too much that it would turn out bad as she is my first Couchsurfing guest and I had no experience hosting someone other than my high school seniors before. Turn out it was an interesting experience and we had fun together for 9 days. She is a polite and laid back person and so there is no frill and fuss in hosting her. Plus point is she is a vegetarian so food is really not an issue for her 🙂
On the 11th evening when I came back from work, I went to the room she used to stay and found a letter on the study table. Read it and felt emotional a lil bit 😦 It’s a touching letter and, though we just got to know each other for brief, it feels like we’ve been friends for long. I told my fellow Couchsurfing friends back in Melaka about this letter too and Jimmy asked how did I feel when my guests checked out, whether I felt emotional and sad. I actually didn’t feel sad earlier in the morning but when I reached home in the evening and found the house pretty quiet and read this letter, I felt sad a little 😦
Our house becomes so quiet and it’s just me and Ozzy again now. I chilled in her room and started missing her and our time dancing to ‘Why this kolaveri-kolaveri di?‘ and ‘Do you love me?’ songs. Really can’t wait to reunite with her again soon! Ozzy told me that we will go to California to visit her one day–I hope he starts saving up though.
*In the bus before she had her last banana leaf meal*
Anyway, take care wherever you are, Gado-gado girl! Surely we’ll see each other again and travel the world together too. All the best in your resolutions too –learning Spanish, applying for Master degree, applying for a job with refugees, and organizing the theme nights. I will make a ‘goal board’ (is that what we call it the other day?) too and put visiting California in the list 🙂 Here’s the song to remind you of me and Ozzy 😀
Lots of love.