How My Airbnb Guest Makes an Online Living: The German Coder & His Xiaomi Phone

Not Lucas

I’ve been an Airbnb host in Kuala Lumpur for about five years. Throughout this time, I’ve hosted people from all over the world.

I will be having a series of mini-interview posts about the eccentric and interesting characters that I’ve met throughout my five years of hosting.

This one time, there was a German man who booked my apartment for 2 nights. Let’s call him Lucas.

Lucas looked like the stereotypical 25-Year-Old German backpacker guy in his gap year. He was somewhat tall at around 1.8m, with a scruffy beard and long unkempt dirty blond hair that he tied into a ponytail.

His attire? A hemp button-down shirt, cargo shorts, and sandals. Put it this way; he was just dreadlocks and a guitar away from looking like a hippie.

Don’t get me wrong; he was a nice dude. The man in the featured picture of this article reminds me of Lucas.

Checking-In Lucas

When Lucas arrived at my apartment from the KUL airport, I greeted him at the guardhouse and registered him as I would any of my other guests.

I was in Danao Toba in 2004, it was beautiful

While I was bringing him up to his studio, we made some small talk. Apparently, Lucas is also an Airbnb host for a house near the major tourist attraction of Danao Toba, Indonesia.

Not going to lie, I got a little nosy. I wanted to know how these Europeans can afford to travel the world for such a long time. 

We continued with small talk and banter (a skill I picked up over the years).

After he placed his luggage down, we stood at the kitchenette area, and I poured him a glass of ice-cold water. Then without shame, I blatantly asked him what he is doing for a living, considering that he moved to Indonesia.

At first, he gave me some vague answers:

Lucas: “oh, I’m a programmer for local businesses in Indonesia. I help them set up their website and online presence.”

He continues to talk about the websites that he designed and the local businesses that he helped to get online. In the middle of his stories, somehow he crumbled and came clean:

Lucas:  “Actually, I don’t work anymore. I don’t like to use the word ‘retired,’ but yeah, that’s basically my situation.”

Me: “Oh no, please tell me you’re not one of those MLM people, are you?”

Lucas: “Haha! No! OK, whatever, I’ll just tell you, in one of my projects, I coded and launched a gambling website for the Indonesian market. It was a huge hit, and I had a lot of registered users.”

I assume it was one of these gambling website, but catering to the Indonesian market

Me: “That’s amazing! But gambling? How did that catch on down there being the largest Islamic population in the world and all?”

Lucas: “It’s all underground, of course. I structured the security in many layers so the authorities can’t trace who owns the website.”

Me: “Damn, that’s some James Bond shit, dude.”

Lucas: “Not really, it’s just coding. Anyway, the website got so famous that it was ‘bought out’ by the Indonesian Mafia. I made a lot of money out of that deal. I’m living off of that money. I can totally not work if I stay somewhere cheap like in Indonesia.”

Anyone could claim anything, but there’s something about Lucas’s secrecy down-to-earth mannerism that made me believed in him.

Me: “So… What are you doing in KL for 2 nights?”

Lucas: “I have a friend’s wedding back in Germany that I must attend. The cheapest flight to Germany was from KL. Also, but before heading home, I want to fix my Xiaomi phone, here in Low Yat. Which is why I booked your place in KL for two nights.”

Photo by Lin Zhizhao on Unsplash

A little backstory: My apartment is within walking distance to Low Yat Plaza (a massive tech mall). He had a new Xiaomi phone that had issues charging.

Apparently, the nearest authorized place to fix his damaged Xiaomi phone is in Kuala Lumpur (which is what he claims then). So basically, he booked my apartment just to repair his Xiaomi phone.

I then continued to dig for more questions about the gambling website. Lucas then realized that he spoke too much and quickly changed topics.

I tried to get back on the gambling website topic again but he diverted the topic elsewhere yet again. He clearly doesn’t want to reveal more info about it.

After he left, he didn’t even leave me an online review. Maybe he doesn’t want to have any digital trail of who knows what he’s doing for a living.

Why I’m Inspired by Lucas’s Story

  1. Although borderline illegal, I have to give him credit for his creativity and balls of steel for ‘dealing’ with the Indonesian Mafia.
  2. You don’t need to have a typical 9-5 job to make a living.
  3. Flipping websites sounds like a smart way to make a lot of money in this digital age.
  4. I also want to create a business where I can live anywhere in the world, which inspired me to start this blog.

To know how I started my Airbnb business in Kuala Lumpur, click here.

Other Airbnb Guest Stories

Episode 1: The German Coder & His Xiaomi Phone
Episode 2: The Vintage Watch Restorer
Episode 3: The Truth About Digital Nomads From a Dane

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