The Römisch-Germanisches Museum

The museum with a glimpse of the Dom on the left.
The Römisch-Germanisches Museum or Roman-German Museum (RGM) is an archeological museum conveniently located next to the Dom and Schildergasse across from Cologne Main Station, so there's no excuse not to visit!

Like many other museums in Europe, students under the age of 25 who produce a students card are able to receive a discount on their admission ticket. When I visited the museum (June 2014), student admission was just over 3 euros (~$3.35). 


5 Ways I Saved Money in Tokyo

Japanese yen
Whether with a touch of fascination or an edge of skepticism, people often ask how I managed to visit Tokyo and do nearly everything I wanted without returning from my vacation with an empty bank account. I understand their sentiments. Tokyo is commonly crowned as one of the most expensive cities in the world. However, I believe this is only a cause of concern if you live in Tokyo. As a visitor, I found Tokyo to be rather inexpensive, especially since the yen is experiencing a decline. For Americans, now is the best time to travel to Japan (as I type this post, $1 equals 119 yen). Nevertheless, no matter where you're from or what the exchange rate is, if you plan your trip to Tokyo carefully and implement simple money-saving techniques you will be surprised how cheaply you can enjoy one of the most popular cities in the world.

Honestly, if you want to travel anywhere, you have to set your priorities straight. I worked three part-time jobs and didn't over spend on luxuries for three months before I traveled. Oftentimes, when people think they "cannot" travel because it's "expensive", they fail to see how much money they're spending on unimportant things. For example, nixing fast food from your daily life saves tons. But I digress.

I feel it's important to note that I present these tips as a low maintenance traveler not a comfort-seeking tourist. In other words, I focus on the sites and immerse myself in my surroundings when I travel; I prioritize these things over comfort.


A Day on Cijin Island

Departing from Kaohsiung's mainland.
This mom and her kids were adorable.
When my dad and I went to Kaohsiung, he let me be the "tour guide". Although I'd never been to Kaohsiung, I was the one who created our schedule. It wasn't difficult, yet I wasn't sure whether or not all the places I chose would be enjoyable. As everyone knows, a person may like a place that another dislikes. However, as Kaohsiung has a different atmosphere to Taipei, I felt we would enjoy most of our stops

The Kaohsiung MRT map.
Before we went to Kaohsiung, I thought Cijin Island was just an island community and not included in Kaohsiung City, but it's actually one of the city's districts. Through my research, I also discovered Cijin Island is a well-known tourist attraction. Many people have commented on the beauty and the fact that it is a fun place to visit, and after visiting myself I agree with those sentiments. Aside from swimming, there are many activities to enjoy on the island, which was important to me because I don't like swimming. Actually, I can't swim...

Cijin Island is also an easy place to access. Ride the Kaohsiung MRT to Sizihwan Station (四子灣站) then check the guide map and look for "Gushan Ferry Pier"(鼓山輪渡站). It only takes about 10 minutes to walk to the station. You'll see the long line of people before you spot the pier!

While the line for Cijin Island is long, it moves fast and takes only about 10 minutes to board the ferry. If you have a bicycle or motorbike, you can take it on the boat. The ferry doesn't accommodate cars, but I'm sure there is port for car riders.



旗津島也很容易取數。就道捷運四子灣站,然後在捷運站的地圖找 “鼓山輪渡站”。走到碼頭就要十分鐘,你會先看到很多人排隊,然後看到碼頭!



Honolulu: My General Impressions

The view of Honolulu from the
Diamond Head crater.
I am going to be brutally honest in this post. I think Honolulu is, albeit beautiful, one of the saddest places I have ever visited.

Western imperialism and its depressing results have left deep scares on the city. I use the term "Western" because it is clear that the Hawaii is in no way, shape, or form a Western island, although it has been part of the United States for over 50 years. The atmosphere in Hawaii is so different it may as well be a different country. Wait—it was before.

Queen Lili'uokalani
The Hawaiian kingdom was overthrown in part by the American Dole Food Company, which was founded by Samuel B. Dole, Hawaii's president after the coup d'etat that overthrew Hawaii's last monarch, Queen Lili'uokalani. Although she attempted to have a say in the new government before the coup, she was ultimately silenced and essentially shutout from molding the future of her own land. Why? Long story short, Dole and the United States were money-hungary and wanted to rape Hawaiian land for all they could get. (Thanks Dole Food Company. I'll stick with Turbana).

Hawaii's unfortunate history aside, did I generally enjoy my time in Hawaii? No. Why? Because of the melancholy.

Once you leave Waikiki, the degradation, homelessness, and destitute nature of the area is obvious. The natives have been pushed to the edge of the island due to insane property costs, and big companies as well as rich folks from the Mainland are beginning to buy up a lot of the land. By the time I left Hawaii, I felt guilty for vacationing there and indirectly promoting the marginalization of the people. (Granted, the trip was my dad's idea, not mine. I've honestly never been keen on visiting Hawaii).

Good luck if you plan on vacationing in Hawaii. Most activities are overpriced, and food is quite costly as well. Parking is hell, so don't rent a car. My dad and I found ourselves either driving around, walking about aimlessly, or eating cheap food. I think hiking in Diamond Head and visiting the Hawaii State Art Museum were the highlights of our trip. After all, those activities cost us $1 and nothing respectively, but I genuinely enjoyed those two stops. Oh, and we fell in love with eating at Marukame Udon.


Biking in Brugge

My friend biking and filming.
Sometimes recording your experiences requires
multitasking skills!
Biking is a great activity to enjoy in any major European city as they are extremely bike friendly. There are usually clearly marked bike lanes, and motorists and pedestrians alike respect the boundaries and keep out of them. I accidentally found myself walking in the bike lanes a few times in Cologne and Brugge, and the citizens politely reminded me to stay on the proper side of the sidewalk or road! As someone from a city where virtually everyone drives daily, it took a while to get used to a high volume of bike traffic.

When my friend and I went to Brugge, our main activity was biking around the city as we weren't interested in wasting our money on shopping or spending long periods of time in museums or old buildings (we had done enough of that in Paris and Cologne). 


Sensō-ji Temple(浅草寺): Recreation + Religion

In front of the main gate, Kaiminarimon(雷門)
with a big chōchin (提灯)or lantern.
A map of my Day 1 walking tour.
The impressive handiwork
under Kaiminarimon's lantern.
Traveling is like a drug to me. I seemingly have unlimited energy when I'm on a trip because I want to see everything. Although it's not possible to see all the main sites in Tokyo during one short trip, I packed my days as much as I could, yet I ended up crashing on the fifth day, and aside from going to Tsukiji Fish Market, I did nothing but walk around the neighborhood where I stayed, buy a pair of cute socks at the grocery store, and sleep! However, my first full day in Tokyo heavily contrasted my fifth; I went to the Tokyo Skytree area, Asakusa, Kappbashi, Ueno, and Tokyo Station Character Street! Furthermore, I footed it from Tokyo Skytree to Okamachi Station(岡町駅)and took in all the alleys and neighborhoods in between, then hopped on the train to Tokyo Station. That day, I walked for around eight hours. Maybe I'm a little crazy, but I love walking, what can say?

Sensō-ji Temple's famous
five-story pagoda(五重塔; gojūnotō
Many of the areas I passed through on my first day in Tokyo deserve their own posts; this one focuses on Sensō-ji Temple(浅草寺)in Asakusa(浅草).

Along with Meiji Shrine(明治神宮), I think Sensō-ji Temple—also known as Kinryū-zan Sensō-ji (金龍浅草寺)is one of the most famous temples in Tokyo. While both shrines are well-known, they are associated with different religions, Shintoism and Buddhism, respectively. Additionally, Sensō-ji Temple is the older of the two. By how much? Well, Sensō-ji Temple was originally founded in 645, and Meiji Shrine was constructed in 1920—you do the math!

Sensō-ji Temple is dedicated to Avalokiteśvara; two brothers supposedly saw a statue of the bodhisattva in the Sumida River near the location of the current shrine. The temple was bombed during World War II and subsequently rebuilt, thus the shrine also symbolizes rebirth.


Wangfujing's "Taiwan Great Food Street"//王府井的“台灣美食街

The night market sign with a map of Taiwan.
The night market main entrance.

I don't know who decided Wangfujing's night market should be named "Taiwan Great Food Street". The food there and Taiwanese night market fare is not that similar! Granted, Taiwan Great Food Street has some of the same food you can find in Taiwan, but most of it isn't Taiwanese-style. However, I went there in 2011, so it must have changed since then.

Kebab meat

Going to Wangfujing wasn't a field trip arranged for our class, a classmate who had been to China before led some of us there. Before I went to Wangfujing, I didn't know what to expect. Wangfujing is interesting in my opinion because people-watching is one of my hobbies. Because Wangfujing is very famous, it's a bustling place. At night, the stores are still teeming with people as they are in the daytime. 


5 Ways Black Girls Can Cope While Traveling Abroad in Asia

(Edited; Cross-posted on The Blasian Narrative and ForHarriet).

In 2012, I moved to Taiwan as a childish, unassertive, somewhat immature bright-eyed 22-year-old with residual high school insecurities finally striking out on my own. Earlier this year, I left Taiwan mature with more confidence and many good, bad, and ugly experiences under my belt. I wouldn't trade my experiences for anything; however, I know several of my positive experiences would have been impossible for me to recognize or enjoy had I not changed my mindset and attitude toward certain situations while abroad. Therefore, I'd like to share some tips I believe will assist Black women love every minute of their time abroad whether they've moved or are on vacation. 

Sometimes I find Black women are reluctant to travel or live abroad—especially solo—because they already feel marginalized in their own countries. Nevertheless, I don't think anyone should ignore their desire to see the world because they are worried about how they'll be received. Granted, it will certainly require a thick skin, if you don't already have any. Three years ago I didn't, and boy did I learn. There comes a time where you either develop the strength to be yourself in a sea of homogeneity or shut down, a prisoner of your own mind. 

I have only been to three Asian countries for longer than a layover; I lived in New Taipei City, Taiwan for nearly three years, completed a summer semester in Beijing as an undergrad, and vacationed in Tokyo. Nevertheless, I feel these tips likely apply to any nation where there isn't a significant Black population. 

1. Do whatever you like

You shouldn't, either!

Seriously, I think I enjoyed my time abroad most when I simply didn't care. Being a Black girl in a place where there virtually are none isn't a crime. There's no point in feeling bad about having a moment or doing what you'd do at home unless it heavily clashes with the manners or culture of the country you're in. 

Want to sleep on the train during the ride home? Like to whistle while you walk? Want to wear your favorite neon-colored dress? Go ahead! As long as you're respectful, you shouldn't prevent yourself from doing whatever you want.

Oh, you're just having some juice at 7-11? Guess what, even a simple action like that is going to make you stand out, so you might as well do all those other normal things you "can't" do. 


My (Mostly) Vegetarian Diet

Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist (shocker!). What I mention in this post are eating habits that have worked for me given my conditions and lifestyle. Therefore, what I say might not work for you!

To accompany my fitness story, I'd like to share the details of my mostly vegetarian diet. I not only eat mostly vegetables and whole grains, but I now also take in most of my carbs from vegetable sources and eat a lot of saturated fat. The result? More stamina when I workout, more fat burn, which has led to better defined muscles, and better digestion (my spastic colon couldn't ask for more).

Like fitness and weight, food is a popular topic of conversation now, especially when it comes to issues such as: Do eggs raise your cholesterol? Should you eat paleo? Is the Atkins diet a godsend? Stevia and agave nectar over sugar and honey? Is saturated fat healthy? Are vegetarians dying slowly from a lack of protein? The list of questions is endless and the debates rage on. 

My diet mainly consists of vegetables, healthy fats,
and grains.
Personally, I love eggs and oatmeal, but beef and pork tend to make my colon go crazy and I don't like processed foods like Stevia so a lot of "diets" and "good replacements" simply don't cut it in my book. Yet I noticed a few months ago that even the sugars in fruit and simple carbs made my blood sugar go crazy, especially in times of stress and anxiety. Plus, my digestive system was struggling. Therefore, I needed to change my diet to align with my body and soul (cheesy, but true). I've been eating this way for about a year, yet I'm not as strict when I'm on vacation.

I don't like labels, especially when it comes to eating habits, so I don't tell people I'm a vegetarian although I eat a mostly vegetarian diet. I don't turn my nose up to meat, I simply prefer to not eat it regularly, aside from fish. Basically, my diet is as follows:

Yes foods (almost daily): eggs, protein from non-meat sources (e.g., beans, rinsed and recooked if canned; tofu), fruit (esp. bananas, apples, avocados, blueberries), vegetables (dark green veggies, squash, roots/tubers, starches), fish, plain full-fat yogurt, grains/oats (e.g., barley, oatmeal, millet), nuts/seeds (esp. peanuts, almonds, quinoa, flax), coconut oil, peanut butter (either homemade or the kind with, you know, just peanuts — no jelly swirl crap), honey, healthy snacks (e.g., plain popcorn; homemade snack bars), tea (esp. green, matcha, chamomile, ginger)

Sometimes foods (once a week or less): dark chocolate, chicken, turkey, cheese, dried fruit, bread (although I only eat certain kinds of bread or homemade bread), butter, vegetarian/vegan protein powder

Rarely/Vacation foods (once every few months or less): fried foods, snack food, milk/white/specialty chocolate, alcohol (haven't had a drink since last summer in Germany), milk, milk replacements (e.g., almond milk, rice milk), homemade jam, ice cream

Never-ever foods: refined sugar/sweeteners (e.g., Stevia, fake syrup, fake honey), beef, pork, fast food, pre-prepared foods (e.g., TV dinners), foods with high levels of gluten, pasta, store-bought jam/jelly, candy, store-bought juice, soft drinks, margarine, high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, cereal, commercially produced vegan mock meats 


Huwei Fort(滬尾砲台)

Huwei Fort's entrance.
滬尾砲台(英語:Hobe Fort)是在淡水的名勝古跡之一。去這砲台很簡單,從捷運淡水站坐紅26公車到 “滬尾砲台站”;從公車站不太遠。

Huwei Fort (also known as Hobe Fort) is one of the historical landmarks of Danshui. It is easy to access; just ride the R26 bus from Danshui Station to "Huwei Fort". It's a short walk from the bus stop.

Governor Liu Ming-Chuan

During the Sino-French War (1884-1885), the Qing Dynasty government built a number of forts to strengthen Taiwan's ports. Speaking of their design, Liu Ming-chuan - the governor of Taiwan - decided German-style forts would be the best because he noticed foreign forts were stronger. In the beginning, Danshui had two forts, but one was destroyed.


Because Huwei Fort never saw battle, it looks almost the same now as it did when it was built. The walls, doors, and rooms fascinated me because they are is such great condition. I felt like I was in the 19th century! I think going to Huwei fort is like riding a time machine.