Saturday, February 27, 2010

Couch Surfing Night Out!

Last night was pretty easily one of the best nights in Xiamen thus far.


A bit of a preface. Over the break Chris and I went up to Boston and visited Dan while he moved into NEU and to see other assorted friends who live there. While there, we met up with Chris' friend from home, John Martin. We got to talking about traveling and adventures we had been on and he brought up a website called that had enabled him to travel and meet some pretty cool people. I had actually briefly heard about it before and since John spoke highly I decided to check it out.

For those who don't know (I'll be brief since it seems like this blog is becoming a place where I promote websites haha) couch surfing (CS as the user call it) is an organization that links people who want to travel, with people who have extra couches or bedrooms they are willing to make available. It has since grown to also be a place where people can find someone who knows the city you are traveling in and can recommend places to go or find people who are just willing to grab a drink and exercise your English a bit. If you are a little creeped out by the idea, read about it on the website before you judge. (there are a fair amount of safety features)

Anyway, I joined and got a few nice messages from locals Xiameners, but activity appeared to be low. So 3 or 4 days ago I decided "What the heck" and posted a message on the Xiamen message board to see if anyone wanted to grab pizza or a beer.

Well the response was fantastic! About half a dozen people wrote back on the group post and it was decided we would go to a place called ME & U2 at 8:30. (Which I didn't realize I had actually gone to with a Customer when I first got to Xiamen)

ME & U2 is a a mostly outdoor bar/restaurant/club


situated in Haiwan Park. (which is pretty impressive)

haiwan park

It is owned by Ulf (THE WOLF!) who if you didn't know, would just come off as an extremely friendly old drunken Swed who spends a lot of time there.


There is a stage for live music and both times I have been there a pretty decent pair of Philippino singer/musicians have played. They do a bunch of American staples, as the clientele seems to be split about 50% foreigners 50% local Chinese. They have Stella, Heineken, Carona and 5 or 6 Chinese beers which, by Xiamen standards, is a healthy selection. (Though Havana, a South American restaurant I went to once wins so far with Sam Adams!) They also had the best Pizza I have had in China so far!

Back to the meeting.

Well, to be honest I had no idea what to expect. I was hoping that at best half the people who said would maybe show up actually would. That put my expectations at 3-4 people including me, a pizza, and a beer or two which to be honest, would have been great as well.

It was a trickle at first. Once I got there a guy named Che Fung came up to me and asked if I was part of CS. We sat down and were the first. Che Fung was born in Taiwan but lived in Hawaii for 32 years and now lives in Guangzhou.

We talked for about 5 mins before he got a text from Ting a 27 year old local who had said she would attend. Ting was one of the first people to message me when I joined the Xiamen group and she had also met with Che Fung the last time he was in Xiamen.

Ting showed up with some other friends from CS. Cameron from England and his girl friend Sally who I think was from Taiwan. Cameron came to Xiamen when he was 22 and met Sally. They moved to England for a few years and have just recently moved back to Xiamen to start an English school in Sally's home town. Cameron plays Trumpet and Guitar and is learning harmonica so it was easy to find stuff to talk about and we might even play some music some time.

That made five English speaking people, pizza, and beer. My expectations were met and it was officially a good night for me, but the people kept coming!

A few minutes later Bonto a fun guy about my age from Turkey showed up. After that 3 kids who are seniors in high school participating in an exchange program in Taiwan wandered in. Thomas from France (so obviously pronounced TOE-mas) Elan from Germany, and a Taiwanese girl named Hisn Chen They were all great fun! Next came a guy named Mike from Florida who I think was 30. He teaches English in Xiamen and we might do some running together at some point. Finally came Stephanie, another local from Xiamen and her friend Lee who was an older guy from South Africa!

So if my addition serves me well, including my self that made 12 people from 7 countries (Taiwan included)!

It seemed like everyone really hit it off great! I know I had a blast. Most of us ended up leaving ME&U2 after a few hours and going to a club that also had some great live music. There we met a few people from Germany and Belgium and the party went on until 3AM!

So after speaking with Ting, Banto, Mike, and Cameron we decided we would try and make it a monthly event, which I am looking forward too. Unfortunately Che Fung, Thomas, and a few others who I really hit it off with are just passing through. But that is the life of the traveler I guess.

May they have equally fun experiences where they off too next!

It was great to meet so many interesting and fun people from all over the world! I am really hoping making it a regular thing works out.

PS: If you happen to be reading this because you are considering moving to or already live in Xiamen, you can find links to the Xiamen couch surfer forum in the live feed located on the right side of this blog. Feel free to say "Hi" and ask any questions you have!


  1. Hello man !

    It's Thomas !
    Thank you organizing this meeting, it was a lot of fun for me too.
    I wish I could join you again (every months, why not...), but you know I live in Taiwan and it's really difficult to come again.

    Hope we can keep in touch, and maybe see each other again (I will travel with my father at the end of my year here, during july).

    And now, i really want to Join this Couch Surfing...

    Have fun in Xiamen, it was really nice to meet you :)


  2. Thomas! Glad to hear from you man!

    It's to bad its such a hassle for you to get over here! It would be great to go out some more.

    I may come to Taiwan before you leave. If I do I'll be sure to get in touch!

    If your here in July shoot me a message! Also, if you are ever in the States when I get home and need a couch to surf on let me know and I'll set you up!

    Stay good!


  3. Aha, if you're going to Taiwan, pass by Kinmen first, I'll be there !

    Next time i'm near Xiamen (in the chinese part...), i'll let you know.
    And the States is of course a great destination, i'm thinking when i will go there :D

    Long life to the Couch Surfing !!!

  4. Brad,
    Wish I could join you! I am loving the blog--and am not the least bit surprised by your organizing skills! Keep up the good work, the world needs your welcoming spirit!

  5. so and now me :)
    my name is not that strange... what you write there.
    it is CAROLINE, haha.
    and just wanted to say that the evening was also really nice for me :)
    enjoyed it !
    hope the next meetings are also great for you guys !