Nino won the popular online vote for best overall blog and best travel blog in the 2010 Taiwan Best Blog Awards. His blog features articles about travel and life in Taiwan.
Blogger – Nino
About the blogger – I’m passionate about travel and East Asia
Years in Taiwan – less than a year
Years blogging – almost 3
Blogging platform – Blogger.com
Country of Origin - Slovenia
Age – 30
Twitter – @NinoArt
Could you please tell us little about your background? What brought you to Taiwan?
My name is Nino, I’m 30 years old and I’m from Slovenia, a small country in Europe. I have a BA in German studies and speak Slovenian, German and English fluently. I’m currently back in Europe, because I’m acquiring documents for a permanent move to Taiwan. I’m doing so, because I want to marry my girlfriend and live together with her. We met on Twitter in 2009, connected very quickly, became friends and eventually fell in love. This is pretty common these days, isn’t it? I visited her in early 2010 and was lucky to spend few months with her, exploring the country, learning about the history, culture and enjoying the lifestyle and culinary delights of Taiwan. Although the whole process of moving to a country so far from Europe is complicated and exhausting, I hope that I will be able to spend this coming Chinese New Year with my girlfriend in Taipei. I’m really looking forward to that.
What do you like about living in Taiwan?
Taiwan reminds me a lot of Slovenia, my home country. Both countries are small (Taiwan is only 1.5 times bigger than Slovenia) and both have beautiful nature. However there is one big difference. Only 2 million people live in Slovenia and we don’t have big cities. Taiwan on the other hand is very densely populated, which is great, because I love big cities. I was very impressed with Taipei and Kaohsiung. When I was living in Banqiao, I loved the MRT connection with Taipei, the night market culture and the cosmopolitan atmosphere in places like Xinyi and Zhongxiao East Road. I’m very into history and architecture and Taipei is full of hidden gems, you just need time to find them. I can’t wait to visit all the museums and historic sites in the future. I’m especially interested in the old gates from the Qing dynasty and the various temples, but I’m also very into skyscrapers and modern architecture. I think for people with such interests, Taiwan is a great place to be. And don’t get me started on the food, the exquisite teas, the friendly people, the pop culture and the breathtaking natural wonders that are found all over the island(s).
How long have you had a blog and why did you start blogging?
I’m blogging since March 2008. I started it out of boredom, I guess. For a year or so, I only blogged once in two weeks and had no followers. Then I started to read other blogs on a regular basis and interact with the bloggers. I gained a small readership and mostly updated on my life. It was in late 2009 that I became more popular.I have no idea why, I guess people liked me. And since this year, when I started to write about my adventures in Taiwan and East Asia, the traffic on my blog really increased a lot. I even created two additional blogs and decided to make pages and lists, so that my readers can find all my posts easier.
What are the main topics you blog about?
At this point, my main topic would be Taiwan. From travelogues to observations, from food to pop culture, I blog about everything related to this country (well, almost everything, I try to avoid politics, because it’s a very delicate issue). I see myself as a bridge between the West and the East or particularly Europe and East Asia. And I hope that my blog would be a great source of information for travelers. Taiwan is not really known as a travel destination in Europe and even more so in my native country, so I hope that as a blogger I can help to get to know Taiwan more. My blog however is not only about Taiwan. I don’t want to be only defined by Taiwan, that’s why I don’t use “Taiwan” in my blog’s name. My blog is about me, my life and how I see and experience things. I blogged a lot about traveling to various places in Europe and Asia (like Malaysia, Singapore, Macau, Seoul…). Sometimes I also blog about my home country Slovenia or write my opinions on various issues. I also write trivial stuff, short stories or share something interesting I found on the web. You can never be sure what my next post will be, it can be anything. But I always try hard to provide the best photos and info, if I introduce something. I’m always very accurate.
What are some of the most interesting things you have blogged about in Taiwan?
This year I wrote over 200 posts related to Taiwan. It’s hard to pick a few. I should mention my most popular post so far. It’s called Visit Taipei! My girlfriend translated it in Traditional and Simplified Chinese and I translated it in Slovenian. It’s an attempt to introduce Taipei to as many people as possible. I have mention that a famous Taiwanese writer Hou Wenyong (候文詠) linked my post on his Facebook page and I had over 25.000 visitors on my blog in 2 weeks. Most were Taiwanese and I received a lot of praise for it. Another popular post was About the young people of Taiwan (also translated to Chinese). Personally one of my favorite projects are my posts about all the 5 historic gates of Taipei. Because not a lot was written about them in English, I asked my girlfriend to help me find sources in Chinese and I translated them. When I’m back to Taipei, I plan to take tons of photos of every gate and add them to my existing posts. Of course there’s so much more on my blog, for those who are interested, I suggest you to check my Taiwan and Taipei pages.
What benefits has blogging given you, either personal or professional?
I don’t make any money with my blog, other than few bucks with AdSense. So far it was a great way to meet new people, to exchange ideas and learn new perspectives. I met one of my readers this year, who is also a blogger and we had a great time in Taipei. I hope to meet more of my followers and other bloggers in the future. That’s the amazing thing about blogging: You never know what doors can be opened for you.
Do you think using Twitter and other social media complements blogging?
I tweet since 2009 and I think Twitter is a great way to let people know about what you write or read. I can’t imagine being a blogger and not tweet these days. And Facebook is a must, too. You can meet awesome people and if you’re lucky like me, maybe one of them will become your lover.
Do you have any advice for new bloggers?
Just be yourself and write about what interests you, not what you think might interest your readers. Blogging has its ups and downs. Sometimes you’ll write something that you feel is really great, but the response will be very modest. Another time you’ll blog something very trivial, but the response will be amazing. Don’t be discouraged by that. I personally feel that interacting with readers is very important. A blog without comments is half dead. Comments give new perspectives, they spice up your post. I love getting them. And I always reply to every comment, if not right away, I will do so when I am free. I advise new bloggers to do so, too. Your readers will appreciate the effort and you’ll easily gain more followers that way.
What are some of your favorite Taiwan blogs?
Interestingly, I don’t follow that many blogs about Taiwan. Those who I do follow are very good, if you ask me. I need to mention Steven Vigar and his photography blog. He’s an amazing photographer. An equally awesome photography blog is Josh in Taiwan, his photos are top. At last, I want to mention a blog, where people share stories about dating between Westerners and Taiwanese. It’s called Yellow Fever, Foreign Moons. They even translate every post in Traditional Chinese. I really like the concept of that blog and the effort they put into translating.
I want to greet all of the bloggers that participated in the contest. I really feel honored, that I won the award among so many strong contenders. And I want to thank my girlfriend Lily for showing me the best part of Taiwan and always supporting me. And, last but not least, thanks to all my readers, followers, fans and friends who helped me win this award.