Couch Story

JunYi, Malaysia: “When I was in the U.S., I was like a sponge.”

nahledI met JunYi during his trip through Europe. He was the only couchsurfer who stayed in my place twice. Since then we met in Asia twice and the second time I asked him for an interview.

It’s quite unusual for Asians to travel the world in the way JunYi does. And it’s really nice to see the world from his point of view. Because it’s much different than when you talk with Europeans.

“When I lost my things, it was the worse and the best experience at the same time. It taught me not to bring so much stuff when travelling, and I realised the importance of that things,” he said.

Why did you decide to get out of Malaysia for the first time?

I was kind of depressed; I just felt something was missing in my life. But I didn’t know what. And then I noticed this programme that allowed me to go to the U.S., so I went for it.

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What did you find there? What was the missing thing?

I think I’ve found myself, my personality, and I have learnt how not to reject myself, how to listen to what I need. I used to change myself a lot because of other people opinions, because of society…

What was is it like to be in a totally different country?

I was like a sponge. I absorbed everything.

When I was in the U.S., I was like a sponge. I absorbed everything. Smoking weed? Let`s do it! I did almost everything. It doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad.

Now I understand myself more, and I can compare different cultures. I know the limitation of both  –  my culture and western culture, and I try to balance within both. I take the best from Asian culture and the best from western culture.

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How did it feel to come back to Malaysia?

In Asian countries, it’s not so easy to express yourself. People don’t show themselves that much.

It sucked, because when I was in the U.S., I felt there like at home because people accepted me as I was. It’s not that easy back in my home country. So when I was in the U.S., I was myself, had a lot of friends and my soul belonged to places where I could express myself. But in Asian countries, it’s not so easy to express yourself. People don’t show themselves that much.

How long did you stay in Malaysia then?

It was around eight months, and then I went to the U.K. for one semester and after that, I traveled Europe for five months.

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What difference have you noticed in the U.S and Europe?

Sometimes I even cried because it was simply too much. It was hard to move on in those moments.

It was very comfortable to travel in the States for me because I speak English, I know the culture, movies, songs, stories… I also worked, and I could travel with quite a lot of money. But when I came to Europe I often didn’t speak the language, and I had very low budget. I had to ask for a place to stay, let girls pay for my toilet, let people buy me food, yeah, it was kind of begging.

Sometimes I even cried because it was simply too much. It was hard to move on in those moments. And you stay in places where you can’t just stay and do nothing. That’s why I sometimes booked a hostel, and I stayed in the room and watched YouTube. All day, just me… I thought I was an extrovert, but when I got to know myself more, I found out that I might be more of an introvert guy. I apparently prefer small groups of people.

What was the best experience of your journey?

The United States. I think that what you do as first time always becomes the best experience.

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And in Europe?

When I lost my things. It was the worse and the best experience at the same time. It taught me not to bring so much stuff when travelling, and I realised the importance of that things.

How did you feel at Couchsurfing?

You should get to know the person because otherwise it’s a hostel for free. And it’s not.

I think CS is a great thing, especially when you can get to know your host better and see the city from “inside”. But sometimes, when you use it too much, you don’t have much time for yourself, and it can be quite hard. Because you feel obligated to share some of your time. You should get to know the person because otherwise it’s a hostel for free. And it’s not.

Sometimes the host wants you to go out at 7 am and to get back at 10 pm, just because he doesn’t want you to stay in his flat alone. And I understand it, it’s his home, but it’s quite tiring. You don’t have much money, and you don’t have any place to go. You maybe use some euros to go to Starbucks or some café, and if you need to go to the toilet, nobody looks after your stuff. It’s quite hard.

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When I met you for the first time, you did a part of the U.S., a significant part of Europe but nothing of Asia. Now you are in Bangkok, so it’s your first time in Asian countries out of Malaysia. How is it?

I came to Bangkok because of you. However I was surprised, I thought Asia is boring, but there is a lot to explore!

To be honest, when I first wanted to go somewhere, I was looking for a flight far away. But now I’m a bit broke, so I have no choice. That’s why I chose an Asian country. I came to Bangkok because of you. However I was surprised, I thought Asia is boring, but there is a lot to explore!

Would you consider to take the same kind of trip as in Europe for a few months in Asia?

Yeah, definitely! If I had time, I would do something from Bali traveling Indonesia then Thailand and move up to China and then slowly to Europe!

So that’s your next plan?

Yeah, that’s my next impossible plan!

I need to save some money and quit my job first… It’ll probably gonna take me 3 or 4 years.

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And in between? 

I think I want to study again, so I saved lots of money while staying at parents’ house, eating their food and paying them just a few dollars a month, not having parties…

In the beginning, you told me you took the best from Asian culture and the best from western culture… Can you explain to me what you mean by “the best”?

Especially Americans are pretty straight, and sometimes it’s just too much.

Erm… I think that Asian people are not that direct. I have learnt not to be that direct in some ways. But I know when to use it. Especially Americans are pretty straight, and sometimes it’s just too much. On the other hand, most Asian people don’t see the world, so they don’t realise they do something strange, like arranging marriages, for example.

But I think we are all the same and the world becomes smaller and smaller…

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