What 3 years of Airbnb living taught this traveller about the nature of neighbours
Bugs, blood and new neighbours are all part of getting to know 'the real Hong Kong' for Kevin Lynch
Whenever Kevin Lynch said goodbye to the family to leave for work, he would get on a plane then check into a place in Hong Kong that he rented through the short-term accommodation site Airbnb.
"I was kind of addicted to going into Hong Kong every week and not having any idea where I was going to stay," said Lynch.
"By staying in different Airbnbs, it really allowed me to check out a lot of different neighbourhoods, but also to get into the real Hong Kong, to get into the little fishing villages ... and really meet a lot more local people than you typically would."
Lynch made some rules for himself: never stay in the same Airbnb, and never stay in the same neighbourhood. As a result, he has stayed in all of Hong Kong's 18 districts and on nine different islands. When Lynch finally ended the experience, he had stayed in 136 different Airbnbs.
Lynch says that his favourite rentals were not usually the nicest ones.
"It's actually the ones that challenge you that create the best stories. I stayed in a little neighbourhood where the place was so small, if I stood in the middle of the room and put my arms out I could reach both sides of the walls.
"When you laid down on the bed, right next to your head were blood stains. There was one working light in the bathroom, there were bugs crawling along the walls. It was really chaotic and its still one of my favourites."
Whether meeting new hosts or neighbours, Lynch says the impermanence of their encounters led to quicker bonds.
"The first couple days you're there, you don't have that tunnel vision that we all build up. And so your eyes are a little more wide open. Your peripheral vision is a little bit bigger," he said.
"Then when it comes time to leave a place, I think you become a little bit more brave because there's no long-term commitment. You're not going to have to sit at someone's boring barbecue the following summer because you're on your way out. I think your guard drops and you become a little bit more honest.
- CBC News | Room with a sue: Airbnb strata battles showing up in court
- CBC Life | The case for talking to strangers while travelling
"That's the cool thing about this experience: That was the permanent state. I actually feel like I met more people then than I typically would if I would just stay in the same place."
After 136 stays, Lynch settled in Shanghai. But his experience still informs how he relates to his surroundings today.
"I think that if you can retain that freshness of when you first move into the neighbourhood, I think we would all benefit from that," he said.