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Many people recommended “Couchsurfing” when they heard about our trip. It is basically an online community, where travellers offer their spare couches to fellow travellers.
We grew up with our parents telling us, “Do not talk to strangers. Do not let strangers into the house.” Free accommodation simply because we are fellow travellers? Simply on the good faith that we’d do the same for other travellers, too? How does that work? And what if we meet “cranky” people? What if we get kidnapped or killed?
But hey, we began this project with a bunch of “what-ifs”, too? And “what if we believed?” took us all the way here. Couchsurfing is a community built with the intentions to “create a better world, one couch at a time”. And people who are part of such an intention… well, “what if we believed?”
So “took a chance” we did to leave Luo Papa’s for a while and figure things out; and “believed” we did in the goodness and kindness and intentions of people when we decided to couchsurf.
And Jonathan appeared in our Taichung couch search. On Jonathan’s profile, he wrote, “I have finished riding a bicycle across America from August 2007 to August 2008 by myself. I went to a lot of national parks and have a long vacation. I met a lot good people in couchsurfing.”
Someone who took a year off the beaten path to cycle across America. That sounded “safe” and “interesting”. Maybe…
He could share with us his experiences and give us tips and advice for our trip to America.
He could teach us how to meet the “good people” in couchsurfing.
And maybe, just maybe, he’d be open to share his story of fulfilling that dream, that inspiring journey with us on video, so that we can put it up on our website.
That is, IF he says yes.
We mean, if we are apprehensive about going into strangers’ houses, surely they would be apprehensive about letting strangers like us into their homes right?
Nope. There is kindness and goodness in people.
Jonathan warmly welcomed us to his house, with hot dinner waiting, and his sister ready to take us night-market sightseeing! And on the walls of his living room, were many photos of other couchsurfers he and his family had hosted. And knowing that we were coming, Jonathan’s mum went to great lengths to prepare a sumptuous dinner and kept asking if we had enough to eat. Such was the hospitality!
To top it all off, Jonathan willingly and openly shared about his dream of cycling across America with us.
“Because it was simply something I wanted to do. I had no idea it was a dream at that point in time. I did not think it was a big deal. But when I actually accomplished it, when people around me shared that I had done something very inspiring, I belatedly realized that I had fulfilled a big dream.” – Jonathan
Shot on Canon by Koh
To be ordinary.
To live each ordinary day fully.
To many people, a dream is something big, something ground breaking, something drastic, something out of the ordinary.
And here is a man, who completed something “big”, only to learn that his dream is to be ordinary. “好好地，踏踏實實地[生活]。” (To live – properly, fully).
Something in that sentence moved the three of us that night. Here we are, 3 musketeers who gave up bits of our lives to fulfil a big dream with an old uncle. But perhaps, it is in dreaming, in living one’s dream, that we learn to live life – properly. Fully.
For now we approach each new day with more ordinariness, less expectations and a lot more “踏实-ness”.
View Jonathan’s blog about his journey here.