From YouTube Drama to Shibuya 109 Mall, the Top 5 Posts of 2015

Tokyo Skytree and the Asahi Beer headquarters - Tokyo, Japan

Wow! What an eventful year it's been! In 2015, I earned my Master's degree in TESOL, moved back to the States, and most of all, did more writing and blogging than I have in years. In total, I have written 110 posts on this blog; including this one, I posted 67 this year! Furthermore, I've recently started writing freelance, which has given me more opportunities to write, share information, and interact with awesome people. Additionally, I started the Black Women Thrive series here on my blog. Although it's taken a backseat recently, I am going to start sharing stories for the series again once the new year starts!

Before moving forward into the next year, it's fun to look back and review what occurred in the year we'll be saying "goodbye" to soon. Therefore, I'd like to review the top five posts on my blog from this year!
Shibuya 109 mall.

Back in February, I treated myself to a trip to Tokyo for my 25th birthday. In less than a week, I was able to visit most of the major parts of the city, including Asakusa, Odaiba, Ueno, Akihabara, Shinjuku, and Ikebukuro. It was an exhausting whirlwind of a trip, and my first time alone in a foreign country (aside from living in Taiwan).

Nevertheless, it was life-changing in a way I can't describe because of the autonomy I had. I was able to take in all the sites without being distracted, make my own decisions about where to go and what to eat, and enjoy the city at my own pace. Not only did I fall in love with Tokyo, but I realized that it's okay—even beneficial—to experience a trip solo. I look forward to writing more about my trip to Tokyo next year. Perhaps I will find myself in the city again in 2016!

Fresh fruit at a famous fruit stand at Liuhe Night Market.
You can see photos of Taiwanese celebs who were patrons.

Generally, my night market posts pull in quite a bit of traffic, but you all seemed particularly interested in Liuhe Night Market. Indeed, it is one of the grandest night markets in Taiwan with several unique options of food and drink to choose from, particularly seafood. While on the pricey side (compared to other night markets), Liuhe Night Market has a special ambiance I think everyone would enjoy. Don't miss the mung bean juice at the famous juice stand pictured to the left. It may sound odd to Western ears, but it's delicious!

English/Japanese Voice Actress Reina

Considering the social climate of today, I feel we need more positive stories about Black people, particularly Black women as they face hostility due to color and gender. Through my Black Women Thrive series, I want to share stories about successful Black women. These women are not unique because they are Black and don't fit the established stereotypes, they stand out because they proudly "buck" the system and refuse to be superficially labeled. 

The most popular interview story of the series thus far is the one featuring Reina, an English/Japanese voice actress from the UK. Within the past decade, she graduated from a Japanese voice acting school, and has worked diligently on her language skills, even after the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Her tenacity is honestly amazing!

Cijin Island Ferry Station

My articles about Kaohsiung, Taiwan appeared to be the most popular travel posts I shared this year. Cijin Island is certainly one of my favorite places in the city. It's spacious, which allows for the crowds to flow with ease, and there are several places to explore. If I find myself in Taiwan again, I'd love to revisit the island, especially to bike.

I still have several posts to share about my trip to Kaohsiung, so please look forward to those in the new year!

Taiwanese YouTube Star Cai A-ga

This was arguably the most emotionally-charged post I wrote this year. After going back and forth with Cai A-ga and his fans about why his grotesque Black man mask was offensive, I felt compelled to write two posts on the subject: one in English geared toward Westerners and expats, and one in Chinese targeting Taiwanese readers. Surprisingly, the article was shared around a few times, and the Chinese version was picked up by Taiwanese news outlets. Eventually, Cai retired the mask and apologized—and I realized one person, if they speak up, can truly make a difference. 

Beautiful street art in Ximending.

Although I published this article almost two years ago, it still get a significant amount of hits, which I suppose is unsurprising since Ximending is one of the most popular areas in Taipei. I honestly didn't find myself in Ximending much during my last year in Taiwan, so I wonder if anything there has changed recently. The next time I visit the district, I'd like to see even more awesome street art there.

It's been an interesting year, to say (er, write) the least. I hope to have your support in the coming year as I continue sharing my thoughts and adventures!


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