March 26, 2013

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Happy blogoversary! My blog is 5 years old today

Today exactly 5 years ago I wrote my first post on this blog: Starting Over. I was trying to recover from a painful breakup, and needed an outlet to write down my thoughts. That's the reason this blog started, the rest is history. At that time I had no idea where this blog might end up 5 years later, I actually never believed it would last that long.

From a journal to a big Taiwan resource

If you've told me at that time that I will become one of the biggest resources on traveling in Taiwan and Taipei I would've probably looked at you with great disbelief - I've never planned any of this, it just happened naturally. In 2008 I was very focused on Malaysia, where I stayed for a few months the year before. I even thought of moving there in the future. Things changed, and fate brought me to Taiwan in 2010. That's where this blog started to transform from a simple journal to something much bigger: A huge collection of travelogues, cultural observations, and updates on my life as an expat in Taiwan. These have been the pillars of my blog in the past three years, but I have never seen myself constrained to a certain idea of what my blog should be. I've also often written about wristwatches, social media, lessons in Chinese, and introduced great parts of my home country to the world. Honestly, I'm not too crazy about the adjective "Kafkaesque" in my blog name anymore, but at least it makes it unique and recognizable, and Google has indexed my content very well, which gives me a lot of traffic. I'm approaching 3 million page views (see my all time blog stats here). Changing the name (and URL) after all these years would therefore make very little sense.

The future of My Kafkaesque life

5 years is a short period of a person's life, but for a blog it's quite a long time given the fact that personal blogs are only popular for around a decade. Anniversaries are always a good opportunity to look back and forward. Since I started this blog, I have published 1380 posts (including this one), 23 posts per month on average. This chart is highlighting my most popular topics ("Taiwan posts" exclude Taipei related posts):

Taiwan and Taipei related posts are slowly taking over my blog.

For the last two years I've heavily focused on Taiwan, Taipei, and travel, and I intend to continue this way in the future. Things will be a little bit different this year, because I've just become father, which has changed my life completely. Everything is so different now, and I'm trying my best to "learn on the job" as fast as possible. I will write about my experience as a foreign father in Taiwan, and I will share a lot of tips and information along the way. This won't turn into a journal type blog, I will use my personal experience to highlight bigger issues. It's something I've been doing for a long while now, I will just add parenthood into the mix. Travelogues, cultural observations and challenges as an expat in Taiwan will remain the core of my blog. This is where I believe I can offer a valuable resource to those foreigners who are interested to visit, or are planning to move to Taiwan. To be more specific, these are some of the things I'm planning to write about in the near future:

- tips for young fathers (might not be everybody's preferred topic)
- cultural observations (one of my favorite topics)
- Taipei travelogues (there are at least 50 more places I want to introduce)
- Taiwan travelogues (in case I manage to travel somewhere with my baby)
- Taipei night market reviews (I have lots of drafts from 2012, that need to be finished)
- Taipei restaurant reviews (my wife and I visited a lot of great restaurants last year)

I won't be able to travel or go out much in the upcoming months, but I have a lot of material from 2012 when my wife and I visited several places around Taipei. I also miss blogging about night markets and restaurant reviews, something I haven't done a lot since 2011. All this is coming up in the next months.

New design elements

This year I won't completely redesign my blog like I did last year, because it takes a lot of time and effort. I might do minor tweaks here and there, and instead focus on the general ease of finding my content. I've improved the Taiwan content overview and the Taipei content overview. I'm also adding blog navigation at the bottom of every Taipei related travel post, you can see how that looks like on the example of the Mingzhi Academy. That little set of links is very helpful to those who browse my site with their smartphones, because they can always find their way back to the general content overview. What I've also done in regards to Taipei is I unified the design of districts where I intend to list every notable building and interesting area. This means that every district of Greater Taipei is now getting individual focus, you can see how that looks like on the example of Zhongzheng and Wanhua. I'm also going to put ads on my blog, some on the sidebar, some in my popular posts. I've tried to do so with Google, but I had some issues with the code. I will figure this out in the next days. I'm constantly approached by websites that want to exchange links, or ask me if they can post guest posts in exchange for some money or product, but I always refuse. I like it much more, if I'm offered to write in exchange for a decent pay per post. Writing for free is out of the question, especially for a website that's competing for the same Google search pie like my blog.

How to follow my blog

As most of you by now know, Google Reader will cease to exist by July 1, 2013. The company, that destroyed every competition in RSS reading platforms a few years ago decided to pull the plug. For most bloggers and blog readers this is a disaster. I won't go further into this issue here, because this post might turn into an angry rant. Instead I want to focus on how to follow this blog after Google Reader has become history. Here are some options for you:

1. Subscribe via email: I have added this feature provided by Feedburner on my right sidebar. Input your email address, click submit and you will get a notification email by Feedburner. You have to click on the link provided in that email and your subscription will be confirmed. It's very simple. That way you won't miss any of my posts.

2. Bookmark my blogs: This is the oldest way of following blogs, but some people still do it, because I can see it on my traffic source trackers.

3. Follow via Google Friend Connect: This is an option for those who also use Blogger. The widget can be found on the right sidebar as well. Click on "Join this site" and your Blogger profile will be added on the list. When you sign in Blogger, you will see my latest post on your blog feed overview. I'm not sure, if Google will kill this feature as well, but as long as it's there, you can use it as Reader replacement, if you mainly read blogspot blogs, and even if you're not a blogger yourself.

4. Follow me on social media: I'm sharing most of my blog posts on my Facebook page and Twitter. It's not like the personally curated Reader experience, which is in your complete control, but still better than nothing. You can also follow me on Instagram, where my community is growing the fastest, just share images from Taiwan.

5. Look for Google Reader alternatives: My favorite reading app of late is Pulse, which I mainly use on my iPad, but they also have a web version. So far you can import your Google Reader feed to the app, but Google is still used as a backend platform. I strongly hope they will allow people to add individual blog feeds in the future - so keep an eye on them. Many people recommend Feedly, but I'm not a big fan. Digg said they will make an RSS reader app, I'm very curious about how that will look like.

Are personal blogs slowly dying out?

A lot of personal blogs have stopped updating in recent years, perhaps this type of blogging is slowly dying out. Google is killing its popular reader, and it might well be that it will drastically change how we read and follow blogs. The future looks bleak, but I don't plan to stop writing, not any time soon. This blog is my platform, this is where I control everything: The design, the experience, the content, the discussion. The web is slowly turning away from the user's control. Platforms like Facebook and Google+ both use algorithms to define what lands in your stream. I don't like this trend at all, and I hope there will be alternatives to this model. How do you see this trend?

De-lurk and greet me!

If you've read this far, then you certainly must be a loyal reader of my blog! If you're a long time reader, I would like to thank you for your loyalty and support, and I hope to keep you coming to my blog in the future. According to Google this blog has 306 RSS subscribers at the moment. Most of my posts of late have between 500-1000 pageviews on average, the popular ones even more. This makes me curious about who my readers are. If you're a long time follower or just joined recently, please delurk and greet me in the comments on this special occasion. You can remain anonymous, but I would be happy to get to know stuff like the country you are from, how long are you following my blog, how regularly are you reading, which topics are the most interesting to you etc. I know I won't get 306 comments, but even if there are a few of you "coming out" as closet MKL fans, I will be happy ;-)

Thanks again for following me. Here is to another 5 years! Cheers!


  1. I'm from the Philippines and I now regularly read your posts through RSS. Been living in Taiwan for 6 months now. Not sure how I came across your blog but I think I was looking for good night markets that time. Congrats on your blog! :)


  2. @Paolo: Hi and thanks for your comment :)

    Can you tell me how do you follow my blog's new updates? Is it via Google Reader or any other RSS reader? Is it social media? If you have recommendations, do share :) Thanks for reading.

  3. congratulations my blogging brother.

    I may not be around as much as I used to be but I remember the early days and in many ways your blogging story is very similar to mine.

    Here is to many many many more!

  4. Happy Blogoversary! Looking forward to more great content in 2013!

  5. I use google reader. I know it will be dead soon but I just love using it. I prefer following blogs through RSS instead of social media because I want to keep news and my friends' updates separate. I plan to use feedly when google reader dies.

  6. Hello, my name is jojo and I am from the Philippines. My wife and I are on our 2nd to the last night of our stay in beautiful Taipei.

    I just would like to say thank you for making this blog as it serves a good reference when planning a trip to Taiwan.

    I would say 95% of our planning was a result from following your advice. I especially appreciate the Zhongzheng walking tour as we followed it to the letter.

    Again, in behalf of my wife, I would like to say thank you very much and congratulations on becoming a father.

  7. I discovered your blog through a comment you left on mine.
    My blog didn't really survive the birth of my son as we are now mostly travelling to visit family. I still hope to resurrect it some day but playing with my son is more fun...
    I hope your blog survives as I read it regularly through reader or whatever I will use next.
    Good luck for the continuation

  8. @Jamaipanese: Thanks a lot :)

    @Todd: Thanks! Your blog is a great inspiration.

    @Anonymous 10:41 PM: Thanks for sharing. I might use Feedly, if there are really no better alternatives at that time.

    @Jojo: Hi and thanks for your comment! :) I'm surprised, that someone would use my Zhongzheng Walking tour, hehe... I should make more of these tours in the future. I'm happy you had fun in Taipei.

    @Arnaud: Thanks for your kind wishes. For now I can manage to write a post between the milk feeding, diaper changing and pacifying my newborn daughter, but as she grows her needs become bigger, so I wonder, if this will affect my blogging time in the future. A blog can be quite a time consuming hobby :)

  9. Congratulations, your blog is a treasure of information.

  10. @F Hill: Thank you very much :)

  11. congrats on your blog. always very interesting to read. I follow you on g+ from germany. havent been around for too long. I recommended to my sister and her family to check out your blog as they will be travelling to taipei next month. keep up the good job!

  12. tai lou! you so old!! xP I mean your blog is so old! 5 years of blog life is like, 50 years of human life! (said the person who can't even blog for more than, er, 3 years) so, big congrats :) keep it up tai lou!!

  13. Congrats !
    I like your blog very much.
    Hope for another 5 years at least :-)


  14. First of all congratulations!

    To be honest with you, in general, I'm not loyal reader of blogs but often I find myself reading content on blogs :) Keep sharing on Google+ and I will try to keep up.

    Your blog is a great balance of travel, tech and personal life and the last one in the mix had worked especially well for may successful bloggers. I guess, it's online version of reality TV shows that are taking a lot of time on all channels across of North America.

    When it comes to evolution of the web it is obvious, I believe, that content equals revenue and more content is created by others less cost they will incur and since it is on their platforms they will make the money. Thank you for using our free social media service :)

    Of course, very few will be able to compete for that ad money on their level but there is still opportunity to so. Fact that Google is sharing ad revenue across the web with content creators is in my opinion better overall deal than anything else out there we all probably consume more. So go for it!

    exHR / CA

  15. Hi Nino,

    About blogs dying, I think it depends which blogs you are talking about. I noticed, that nowadays, a lot of people open a blog just to keep a record of their time in Taiwan, or elsewhere, they want to document a experience within a timeframe and then it stops. Hence, that gives us the feeling that blogs come and go. That's why I like your blog and Hungry in Taipei, you guys have been in Taipei for many years, and we can see how the city is growing and what not.

    Though I'm not a really active blogger, I am a WordPress fan, blogging is at the core of their business, and they do a pretty fine job at creating a friendly environment for bloggers. I don't know how it works on the backend with blogger, but with WordPress, you can discover articles or blogs by tags, it shows you recent articles, no algorithms involved, which is nice because you can connect with other WordPress bloggers. They do have a Reader too, but not well developed yet. I saw, your wife had moved over to WordPress, a good choice she made! :)

    With that said, how you managed to configure your blog here is pretty bad ass, though, I still find pages, well mainly pictures, loading kinda slowly. At the beginning, I sometimes, just skimmed the text, and close the page. I could not imagine the work it'd require to migrate to another platform, not to mention the readership you might lose in the transition... but maybe something for you to consider, eh ;) Especially, because what you mentioned about being able to control your blog, unlike other services, resonates with Matt Mullenweg's (WordPress founder) thoughts about blogging, and after Google Reader's demise, who knows about blogger's future...

    I follow you on Google Reader and twitter, I think you could guess who but I enjoy lurking here :p

  16. Hi, I found your blog through instagram. At first, I thought your instagram account was an account managed by the Taiwanese government because of the name your are using (instagramtaiwan). I often see the eye-catching photos that you shared and love them. I was born and raised in Sanchong Taiwan, and now live in Orange county, California. There are lots of things and photos you shared that I can relate to it. I am glad to have found your website, and now I am having my Caucasian husband read it.
    Keep up the good work, and I will be back soon.

  17. @Anonymous from Germany: Thank you! Danke fürs Folgen :)

    @The Girl in Stiletto: Haha.. Old? Oh yeah... don't remind me :P Thanks for your kind words! :)

    @Hans: Thanks for the kind words. :)

    @Kristijan: Thanks for your kind words and the useful tips! :) Puno ti hvala, prijatelju.

    @Anonymous: Hey, thanks for your long comment. I meant personal blogs, not all blogs, when I talked about dying :) I've considered to move to Wordpress in the past, but the problem is I'm so used to write in Blogger, and I've tweaked the template and the code for so long to suit my style. Then there is the Google Analytics code, which is on this URL for 3 years already. Since Blogger is Google's, my posts get indexed very well. A ton of my links are on sites like TripAdvisor, which gives me a lot of traffic, too. I heard some people moved to Wordpress and their traffic fell significantly - I just don't wanna lose that. I also like the integration of Blogger and Google+. There won't be such thing with Wordpress. I've also considered to go to my own domain, but boy would I pay a lot for the server, because my traffic keeps going up (my wife has her domain on a server, where I also host my photos, and we had to pay more in recent weeks due to using more resource).

    The problem with photos is known to me, but it's better than before when I had on flickr. I would like to use Google's servers, they are the fastest, but the problem is that the uploaded photos lose quality, get pixelated sometimes. And one of my problems is I put too much photos in general :P Some really appreciate that, some feel is too troublesome to wait for them to load. It's hard to please everybody.

    I have no idea who you are, I might figure that out in the future :)

    @Sherry: Hi and thanks for your kind words. I hope your husband likes to learn about Taiwan through my blog. I'm planning to post some pics on Sanchong in the future, I went to walk around the area there. I created InstagramTaiwan to be easily found by people, and so far it works well. Thanks again.

  18. Hi,
    New (kinda) lurker here.
    I'm from France and interested in all things Taiwan since i'm planning on coming soon there to learn chinese.
    Taipei or Kaohsiung, still wondering :)
    Great blog you have here i must say. ALways a pleasure to read !
    Joe Le Merou

  19. Happy Anniversary! Blogging is tough "career" you're awesome made it so far! You are the man!

    Google friend connect is supposed to be discontinued but not sure why it is still alive today.


  20. Oh I like your photo above, awesome shot!

  21. @Joe Le Merou: Thank you and I'm glad to have you as a reader.

    @JONG: Thank you for your kind words :)

  22. Hi! Congratulations for the 5th anniversary.

    I've been reading you for a few years. I'm a Spanish guy, 29 years old, and I have a Taiwanese husband, married for two years now. I've been to Taiwan three times already.
    My favorite part about your blog is the posts about the culture. I love learning more about the cultural differences between Taiwan and Europe. I'm very happy that you don't plan on stop writing, this blog is my favorite.
    About how I follow you, it's on Google Reader. When it dies, I will probably look for an alternative feed reader.

  23. Congrats on your baby! I'm an on and off reader. I'm from another small European country that starts with an S :) My wife is Taiwanese and we have a son who is almost 2 years old so I'm looking forward to your new posts. We live in Europe now but contemplate moving back to Taiwan in the future.

  24. @Fer: Thanks for liking my posts on culture. I try my best to write about them when I have a certain experience. I hope you'll find a way to follow me in the future.

    @Ed: Hmm.. small country with S? No idea which could that be :) Thanks for reading and following :)

  25. Hi there. I'm from Venezuela, and I just bumped into this blog because I was looking for information about Taiwanese weddings. Truth being told I don't have plans to go to that particular country any time soon (I'm 22 and I won't plan on making trips to Asian countries until I can live on my own and earn my own money).

    I wanted to thank you for making so many useful posts. I'm actually writing a little fanfiction, which is an story based on other story, which means if you do it you do it because it's a hobie... Anyway, my main character is a girl who has 1/4 European blood, but other than being a blue eyed blond (and for some reason utterly nuts) she is like your average Taiwanese girl... mmm, now that I think of it you should probably scratch that, she is anything but normal. My point being that me writing a story that happens in Taiwan makes me actually need to know some stuff on their cultures/thingies that come after the name of people/traditions/superstitions/etc.

    I don't know how much is worth an review of a random stranger that hasn't even been around for 12 hours, but I figured that the least I could do was satisfy a bit of your curiosity on those mysterious numbers that represent random shadowy people lurking about.

    Oh! Also congratulations about your baby!

    PD: I know this will come as something random but my favorite author is Taiwanese, which means I would love to learn some of the writing and stuff to take sneak peaks on my favorite novels instead of waiting for the wonderful fans to translate them (not that I don't appreciate it, because I do. I'm just being impatient).

    I would have put the link here of the translation page on the web but I did read "what you expected of reviews" so I won't because I wouldn't like to upset you for no good reason. I will tell you though, that if you search for "1/2 Prince" you will get there pretty fast ^_^

    Well, I guess I rambled enough. Good luck with this, I will bookmark you so I don't lose you (maybe even follow). But,for the time being bye (^.^)/

  26. @Chicaalterego: Thanks for sharing. I'm happy you found my blog and keep that bookmark safe :)

  27. Hi! I've been browsing through your blog in the recent weeks (I do so everytime I need to stop for a while and not for too long - as would happen in case of starting reading a book or so :) ) ...I'm still getting to know around here and my reading experience is basically like this - I start typing "kafka..." into the browser and than read most up-to-date posts and this is where I've come so far...anyways, congratulations on your newborn baby and I hope you three are all doing all right :)

    btw, I'm from Slovakia and study Chinese language/culture in Brno (which is in Czech Republic), if I'm not mistaken you're Slovenian (did I misspell it? :) ) which is quite near, from the geographic point of view and linguistic as well...about how I've come to "discover" your blog, that is thanks to google (I did some search, I believe it was about taiwanese girls and I found a very funny post on your blog)...

    and about my interest in Taiwan, , what I know for sure is that I love the language (here I mean the "mandarin" chinese) and also quite like some of the characteristics of Taiwanese/Chinese people personality (funny is I find myself in some ways very similar), plus the weather (yes, hot and humid, much better than what we have here I think - namely in the winter; this might be quite surprising but that's what my prefference is, hot and humid is just fine, perhaps the rain not so much :) ) makes sense to me to dream about moving to Taiwan, but so far I try to be rather humble, because I know there's not much that I can offer (not a native English speaker and having obtained a degree in law which I'm probably never gonna use in the future due to my animosity towards the way law is being exercised), but who knows maybe I'm gonna figure this out in the future :)

  28. @Tomas: Hello, nice to meet you. Sorry for my late reply, I was very busy these days.

    I'm glad you found my blog and that we share similar interests. Taiwan can be like a dream or a big challenge. It really depends what you are doing here. If you are you, single and free it's truly a gem. You'll have tons of fun, and I'm sure you'll meet some very lovely girl. If you're married, have kid, a routine job... then it can get pretty tough sometimes. Keep your dream alive, I was once like you. I wouldn't wanna change my decision to move here, if I had the chance to go back :)

    PS: My wife and I visited Bratislava 3 years ago, I blogged about it here. The city is very pretty, only thing where we weren't too happy about was the service at restaurant and an expensive Kofola. But I loved the bryndzove halouški! One of my favorite dishes ever :) Bring some to Taipei, if you visit :)

  29. hi there again! I was thinking of replying here but did not manage to find enough spare time to do so, I was very busy preparing for an exam from Chinese grammar. however, after re-reading my message I concluded my message probably is a little too personal so if you find it inappropriate for your blog discussion you may as well regard it as a personal message, 隨你的便 :) anyway I'll be definitely in touch on facebook.

    first of all, thank you so much for your encouragement! at times it is very hard to keep our dreams alive, just few days ago I got a phone call, a friend of mine offered me a job and I basically turned it down because otherwise I wouldn't manage to study Chinese full time. on the other hand, I still have some time to decide and maybe if I finally end up accepting it I could still earn enough money and eventually come up with a solid plan for moving to Taiwan; besides there must be a good private Chinese language school, not only at a university (though probably a very expensive one). yet no matter what the result of my current dilemma is I'm certain that my heart will never be at piece if I don't try my best to fulfill the dream.

    also, what I forgot to mention in my first post here, I really like how I from time to time - thanks to your blog - learn new characters/words (with recent examples of 寶貝,佛,靈,廟 etc.), my pride won't allow me to scan through a character without having learned it, which happens very often since I started studying in September and as of today I recognize / am able to write only about one thousand characters :)

    I am truly surprised to see how comprehensive your posts are, it seems you've seen much more of Bratislava than any average Slovak citizen :) I'm also sorry about your bad experience with the waiter, I'm afraid your case wasn't an exception :( just for fun, when I'm in Taibei I'll try to smuggle in some "bryndza" which is that special kind of cheese which is used for preparation of the dish you liked so much :) nevertheless I think the cheese (or the whole meal?) is of Romanian origin and many Slovaks today prefer other dishes. but I realize my promise is kind of pointless since I've no idea when it comes to me being in Taiwan (there is a small chance though that this December I'll show up there for 2 weeks through a special university program, I think it's at 師範大學) so in the meantime if you like you can try any pasta with any sort of special cheese (should be salty, like greek feta for example) and bacon - as far as I know that's basically it :)


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