Goodbye and Thank You.

We shared some good times together. Taught me how to fully appreciate a hot cup of tea - - taking the time to feel the emanating warmth gradually bring my hands back to life. Although I admit, some moments were cold and bitter, you never failed to take me by the hand, and encourage me to draw in the snow. There were even times when I thought I despised you, wanted you to go away, and to never look back. However, on the last few days we had together - - I knew I loved you because this whole time, you had a surprise waiting for me. Sunshine. Life. Thank you. 

Goodbye winter. Welcome Spring.


It's time to bask in the sun!

The Other Side of the Couchsurfing Road

Although I have experienced couchsurfing throughout Europe and SE Asia, I realized that I have zero couchhosting experiences to share on my blog. I've always wondered what are the actual thoughts that run inside an experienced couchhosts' mind. Are the experiences similar? Different? Tonight, it is Ivan's turn to express his raw thoughts and opinions derived from his very own couchhosting experience. 
1) How do you define the 'couchsurfing' community? It's a place where you can meet and look at people. It's the place that you can learn about the cultures, it's the place that you can meet new different activities and as well, it's the place where you give a couch to people.

2) How many times have you hosted and surfed?
Maybe 21 (for hosting), 9 for surfing.

3) What was the strangest couch hosting experience you've had?
They asked me where was the North side because they had to sleep with their head looking to the North direction. I told them I had a compass, maybe as a joke. And, they asked me if they can use it for moving the bed. So, he moved 3 degrees of the bed to face the North direction.   

4) Did you ever have a bad experience(s)? Bad? No. Not bad.
5) What is the greatest thing you have learned from couch-hosting?
Well, uh, I learned a lot of things about the important you look at the ways...the way you look at things...different opinions. The person who listens and thinks about the talking. So, I learned a lot of things about different ways. For example, I remember a girl, a couchsurfer, she told me, 'you never miss the person. You miss how you feel when you're with the person'..after she told me, I thought about that a lot. It's a good sentence.
6) Do you hold any expectations from a couchsurfer?
I talked with many people about that, the expectations of the rules and all the people have different expectations. There are some people that meet people that are similar..even for example, I have friends that they just want to meet a nice girl. Couchsurfing is a nice way to meet nice girls but for me, expectations - I don't have expectations or rules or something. I just hope to have fun and sometimes, to have fun is to have a beer, or have dinner - or sometimes we don't spend much time together - all the people are different. There are some people you connect more with, so you do more things together. And for other people, you just meet at the night and do something together.

7) When and why did you join couchsurfing? 2006. I start to know this kind of webpage when I was living in Ireland, and a friend told me about hospitality clubs. We were trying to travel to Germany at the time, and my friend started to explain the webpage. We logged in, but I didn't use it until I came back to Spain in January 2007. Then I hosted a couple of people from the hospitality clubs and a good friend (he was also from the hospitality club as well). I hosted a couple as well - but when I tried to request a couch in Paris or somewhere else, I didn't get it. So, I was disappointed. This year, I started to looking at people's profiles in Korea - and started to know couchsurfing. Some people they think it's just a couch. After my first experience in Korea, and to know the different people, the real couchsurfing - I started to be a real couchsurfer. 
8) What types of criticism have you received from friends and/or family?
Like, you're crazy. My parents never say to me something, because they know how I am and I won't listen. But, my friends say I'm crazy and you're not afraid you will get things stolen?

9) When you receive negative opinions about couchhosting, what do you say in return? I say that until now, I had a really good experience. I've met really good people and enjoy doing that. Nothing is 100% safe but I try to open the door to people I, more or less, I can trust. You know how I trust people on couchsurfing? I always read the references from other people, how many references they have, see if they are vouched for. 'Vouched' means like, if you go to the bank, and if you don't have any money, you have people who 'vouch' you - there are some people that 'vouch' you which means they trust you 100%.
10) Is there anything else you want to add about your overall experiences with couchsurfing?
I think that the first time who tried couchsurfing, need to know what is the real couchsurfing way. Couchsurfing is not about having a free couch, it's a place where you can meet people - they will host you or not. It's not a free couch. When you talk with other people- they think 'ah, free couch' it's not that way. It's like 10% but not everything. It's about sharing the cultures, conversations, and meeting new people. 

Ivan is currently in Barcelona, Spain and plans to continue contributing positively in the couch-surfing community. And, here are some more fun photos taken from today:
The drive in Granollers, basset hounds, friendly locals at the local bar watching a soccer match between Spain and Italy, a Bocadillo sandwich, and some good laughs. In other words, a successful Wednesday in my eyes. 


I Adore.

Spring a la Spain.
I found myself daydreaming today, always picking the window seat; gazing out into new territory, thinking about not thinking. Being. Here. I have less than a week left in Spain. It was just so nice to absorb everything.
As you have seen in my previous blog entries about Spain, I have expressed how my feelings for the food in Spain are pretty serious. But I don't think I've mentioned how much I appreciate the other parts of Spain, the parts that don't get as much attention. 
There is just something about being outside, absorbing the sun, admiring Spain's architecture that makes me want to stand and smile in silence - - for just a little bit longer.


Do not be deceived...

"Every wall is a door."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

A Recipe for an Almost Perfect Sunday

Now I'm not usually a fan of beers...but how could you say no to something like this on a sunny Sunday afternoon?
It was called La Paradeta. A restaurant near the center of Barcelona, that serves fresh, Fresh Seafood. Probably the freshest I have ever seen in my 27 years of living..

And what better way to end this magnificent Sunday than to take a night stroll on this peaceful beach?

There was only one thing (more like a special someone) missing that would have made the weekend perfecto...
Still grateful for a wonderful Sunday!

Something You Might Not Know About Spain..

As the sun lazily sets and goes back to its Western residence..
The energy in Granollers, a quaint city that sits on the outskirts of Barcelona, Spain, is rising..
A semi-annual dinner party with my current couch host and his friends has only just begun.
In Spain, dinner starts at 10-11pm, late into the evening! Whereas in my home country, USA, dinner is approximately at 6-7pm. On this special Saturday evening, we ate Malaysian and Korean foods: a spicy medley of sauteed pork, green/red peppers, carrots, sushi filled with sliced omelette, carrots, frankfurts, and plenty of bread to go around (to sop up the wonderful leftover sauces)!

Nothing better than to learn a new way to share food with friends, in a whole new world.

10 Things I Wish I Knew About Life...At the Age of 18.

1. Choose what to believe. We are always exposed to new information, not just daily, but by the second. Don't always believe everything you hear and take ownership of what kind of thoughts (positive/negative) you want floating in your head.
2. Anything...and, I mean anything is possible. And, if anyone tells you differently, prove them wrong and go for it. I used to think it would be impossible to do something that I actually loved because it didn't seem 'practical'.
3. Don't take it personally. At the age of 18, I recall being quite vulnerable to what other people would say to me. Little did I know at the time, any insults/judgements were all just a reflection of the attackers' own insecurities - - projecting those onto me.
4. It's okay to fail. Because if we don't fail, we do not learn how to do things a little better each time. Take peace in that.
5. Follow your heart. Do what you please, do what makes you happy - - because in the end, it's your heart on the line - not anyone elses'.
6. Trust your instincts. They are there for a reason and is saying something - - it's the Robin to the Batman of following your heart.
7. Fear is just a negative word for challenge. Overcome those fears by taking on a new challenge.
8. Laugh at yourself. Not only is it healthy, but it's beneficial to not take others' negative criticisms
9. Now is always the best time. After reading The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, I realized how much power lies within each current moment. Do the things you want to do now. There's no better time than now.
10. Guessing does nothing, just ask or take action to figure it out yourself. I used to assume things when I was 18, stupid things. 'Oh, he didn't call me's probably because he doesn't like me'. Taking action is the best way to finding any answer in this world.

Magic Fountain of Montjuic

Do you have anything you might like to add to this list? What are some other things you wished you had known at that time?


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