So, today I am receiving a guest. I love guests.
Living in China for two years, I’ve had only a handful of people from back home come visit me, and so it is always with a great deal of anticipation that I receive new visitors. So much so, that I don’t really care if I have ever met them or not.
Such is the case with Lisa – said ‘random Australian girl’ (please note, by ‘bedroom’ I mean ‘spare bedroom’ – a fact that Maggie was adamant about 😉 )
You see, Lisa is a friend of my friend Maryann, whom I met on equally unfamiliar terms back in 2003 when I travelled to London and was looking for a place to stay. Maryann was kind enough to trust that I wasn’t an axe-wielding Canuck looking to turn her into syrup-coated bacon.
She opened her home to me and we became instant friends, and have remained so in the years since.
I met Maryann through an awesome site called Global Freeloaders, which basically connects like-minded travellers in their quest to circumvent the pricey hotel/hostel market (particularly in Europe, North America and Australia). Basically a traveller looking for a place to stay logs into the site, does a search and finds kind individuals (often also travellers who’ve used the service at one time or another) that have a spare place to share (couch, floor, bed, tent, whatever).
I have used the service on three continents, in twelve cities, and absolutely adore it (read my article on it). Aside from the obvious financial benefits, it immediately plugs you into the local scene and gives you a major home court advantage over other travellers. Additionally, as Maryann is proof of (and like-wise my Thai ‘family’, whom I’ve now returned to visit twice), it creates deep and lasting friendships.
And so it was with absolutely no hesitation that I agreed to let Lisa come stay with us, sight-unseen so to speak. She arrives in Suzhou this evening and it’s trial by fire – as we’re taking her out to 100 RMB all-you-can-drink night at the Shamrock. She’ll be in town for a few days, and as I’ve grown a bit stationary, I look forward to hearing about her travels.