After all, my visitors, although expected, could have been anyone for all I really knew.
You see, since I moved into my current home, I've completely lost the urge to travel. So, instead of going off to see the World I decided to invite the World to see me.
And right at that moment, China was knocking at my front door.
It all started when my daughter told me about renting a spare room in her house through Airbnb (and this isn't an advertisement either because they are worth billions and don't need my help). I started researching the site and, while she didn't go ahead, I decided to try it.
(Airbnb is a website for people to rent out lodging. It has over 500,000 listings in 33,000 cities and 192 countries. Founded in August 2008 and headquartered in San Franciso, California, the company is privately owned and operated by Airbnb, Inc.)
I didn't think there would be much interest in my home because I live over an hour outside of Melbourne in a predominantly rural area. However, one week after listing my space I had five booking enquiries. Two I rejected as I didn't feel comfortable after speaking with them via email and three I accepted.
My first guests were from Beijing, China and this was their first visit to Australia. Just after I accepted their booking it occurred to me that I had been very critical of the government of the People's Republic of China on my blog.......not a friendly act of a gracious host. However, then I remembered that Google (plus social media like Facebook, Instagram etc) is banned in China so....that made me feel better.
I was excited about the prospect of hosting overseas visitors but when I heard the knock at my door I briefly wondered if I had done the right thing. First, you have no idea what they will be like and second, you don't know whether they will feel comfortable in your home.
However, as it happened, opening that front door was an absolute treat. Sussan and Dennis were a gorgeous, fun young couple. And great ambassadors for their country.
|Dennis and Sussan happy to star on my blog|
Sussan didn't speak English (although her sign language was easy to understand) and Dennis was educated in New York so he did all the talking and interpreting. Dennis works in management and Sussan in marketing. They were in Australia to take their pre-wedding pictures (they dress in their wedding outfits and take pictures in front of iconic places such as the Opera House etc).
They live in a small apartment in Beijing and they both ran around my house amazed at all the space. Sussan was taking photos of everything including the floor to ceiling glass windows which they said they would not be able to have in China because of burglaries. They talked about the smog levels in Beijing and the difficulties in being able to afford a home there. Nonetheless, they had big plans for their future which are probably no different to other young people all over the World. We discussed China's one child policy and how this impacts on those who are keen for larger families. They asked lots of questions about life in Australia and I asked them about their jobs and families.
My home was about the fourth they had stayed in during their visit here so they had tried Vegemite, seen Kangaroos and experienced other Aussie adventures. Being the great Cultural Ambassador that I am we talked and laughed a lot. I showed them some fine Australian wine and how to do a 'Tim Tam slam'. A Tim Tam is a chocolate biscuit which is divine....you take a bite out of each end and put it in your tea and coffee and drink out of it like a straw (I put a video in my side bar if you are really fascinated about this). Yes, sophistication at its finest.
Here is a picture of Sussan trying it .....we all laughed so much.
|Sussan covered in chocolate|
It was a great experience and another reminder that we all laugh about the same things no matter where we live or what language we speak.
Becoming an Airbnb host is something to consider if you have spare space in your house, you like meeting people and you are happy to share knowledge about your city. The upside is you make new friends, learn a lot about other countries and get to earn some extra money too. It is also a site to consider if you want to travel too.
My next guests come from Shanghai, China - a city which is apparently very different from Beijing. Fingers crossed it will be another positive experience. Knock, knock might be a new series on my blog if my guests have interesting stories to tell.
Have you tried Airbnb as a guest or as a host? Do you think you would be game to try?
And, if you want me to send you a Tim Tam to try the 'slam' you know you only have to ask. Everyone loves chocolate, right?