Paying it Forward

If you know me, or you follow this blog, you probably already know that my reason for being in South Korea is to save money. I have no plans to stay here. I want to travel. I want to eventually make my living traveling. But no one is going to pay me for sitting on my butt talking about what my dreams are. No one is going to pay me to travel when I don't actually have much traveling experience. So here I am, working and saving money.

Unfortunately, long stretches of time traveling are expensive, and while I should have a goodly amount of money saved by the time I leave this country, it is by no means a fortune. I will have to budget my money very carefully if I intend to make a full year of travel as I plan to. This may include working for money along the way, but it will also definitely include a lot of camping and couch surfing. The latter is what I want to talk about today.

This week I took in a couch surfer who stopped through Busan. He's an interesting guy who has been cycling around the world in bits and pieces for the past eight years. So far, he's hit 120 countries. On a bicycle.

I actually have been aware of him for some time through a website called Reddit where he has been posting images and stories of his travels. As I was looking through the site one day, I saw a post from him asking if anyone in South Korea or Japan might have an open couch in the next few weeks, and I replied, without hesitation, that I did. This despite the fact that most people who live in mobile homes actually have roomier living accommodations than I do. Still, he accepted, and a week or two later I was awakened by a tall German ringing my door buzzer.

At this point, I had about an hour to get to know this guy before I let him stay in my room with all of my camera gear, my computer, and everything else that matters to me. But I had to trust in him. I had to trust in the idea that this guy was not going to rob me blind. I had to trust that he wasn't going to trash my place. I had to trust that he wouldn't eat me out of house and home. 

I told my co-worker that day that I had a guy at my place, and she asked why I would trust someone to just stay at my place while I work all day. I gave her the best answer I could:

I have to trust him because in the future I'm going to be asking people to trust me in the same way.

As soon as the end of this year, I'm going to be asking people to trust me not to rob them. Not to trash their homes, Not to eat them out of house and home. If I can't trust someone else to sleep on my floor, and enjoy my hospitality, then I certainly can't ask anyone else to give the same trust to me. 

As it turned out, the guy is pretty awesome. We have a ton in common, and we spent a lot of time talking and laughing together. He taught me a lot, and I feel like I'm better prepared to face my journey having learned from him. I couldn't have asked for a better experience, and by the time it was time for him to leave, I was actually rather sad to see him go. I'm hoping that the people I meet in my travels will have the same feeling about me when it comes time for us to part. The best I can do is be a good person, and never ask for more than I'm willing to give.

There are a lot of people in this world who ask a lot of others, and never give anything back in return. There are a lot of people who expect the world to provide for them. I have to be honest, I've been guilty of this in the past. I'm trying to turn that boat around. It's not a small boat, and it isn't easy to always steer in the right direction, but I think I'm beginning to make progress. 


The man himself, in all his glory. Ladies and gentlemen: Patrick Martin Schroeder, the World Bicyclist.


Patrick Martin Schroeder's website can be found  here. He's a great guy with a ton of great stories. I highly recommend a visit.