CouchSurfing in Singapore getting known to the Media

Sep 22, 2009

Couch surfing catching on 5,090 in Net-based service to host travellers, up from 17 here in 2004

By Jessica Lim

EACH year, Ms Juana Jumat lets about 20 strangers into her home, some from far-flung places such as Estonia, Russia and South Africa.

The IT administrator is a couch surfer, which means she gives travellers access to a free ‘couch’ when they visit Singapore. In return, they offer theirs.

The couch-surfing community is growing here. There are currently 5,090 in Singapore, up from just 17 when the Internet-based service first took root in 2004.

This is how it works: sign up at couchsurfing.org and create a profile to enable one to host, surf or show travellers around – even if one is not hosting.

Ms Juana, 30, who lives with her mother and sister in a four-room flat in Bukit Batok, has hosted nearly 100 travellers since she signed up in 2004.

Each time, an extra mattress is rolled out for the guest, who shares her bedroom. The stay usually includes home-cooked food and excursions to Geylang Serai.

In turn, she saved money in Germany where she attended a harvest festival with her host, a local student. She has surfed 10 couches so far.

Another couch surfer, operations officer Jasmin Rohani, has hosted eight people and surfed twice.

‘I love it because I get to eat local food at a local restaurant with a local. The experiences are not touristy at all,’ said the 32-year-old, who lives in a five-room flat in Jurong West with his parents. ‘You never know whom you are going to meet.’

The non-profit system, founded by an American in 2004, now has more than 1.1 million registered users in more than 230 countries. The average couch surfer is 27 years old, though a couple of hundred are aged over 80.

Read the full story in Tuesday’s edition of The Straits Times.

http://www.straitstimes.com/Breaking%2BNews/Singapore/Story/STIStory_432832.html

‘limjess@sph.com.sg
Copyright © 2007 Singapore Press Holdings. All rights reserved. Privacy Statement & Condition of Access

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