In 2018, the 24-hour news machine whirred so viciously, jaw-dropping scandals vanished from the headlines like stray socks in a washing machine, hopelessly drowned by spin cycles of threats, tweets and tweeted threats.

Yesterday, we peeled behind the front pages to revisit semi-nomadic Himalayan yak herders, Taiwan’s high mountain timber poachers and the cross-Strait politics of “Crazy Rich Asians.”

As we head into 2019, here are six more of our top stories from Taiwan and the Asia-Pacific:


Sihanoukville, China's New Colony

‘John Dough’ photographs the transformation of Sihanoukville, Cambodia from sleepy beachside town to Chinese playground.

“The Chinese are building dozens of edifices simultaneously. Almost all are copies of each other: towering condo-hotels and box-like concrete slab casinos. They are going up right beside each other along the beach road and on major streets across town. Virtually everything but the cement and sand is imported by sea from China.”


Aristophanes: The Taiwanese Rapper Making Mandarin Waves in Global Hip-Hop

Jennifer Creery catches up with Taiwanese rapper Aristophanes, a rising star in a male-dominated industry.

“While the 27-year-old's intoxicating delivery is ethereal in its otherworldliness it is, at times, unsettling – filled with hisses and heavy breathing overlaid with irregular, choppy beats, which cut through songs with unstoppable force.”


Health Care for All: The Good & Not-So-Great of Taiwan's Universal Coverage

Siok Hui Leong asks the tough questions about Taiwan’s universal healthcare: Is its model of accessible, affordable healthcare viable in the long run?

“In 2016, resident doctors clocked an average of 80 to 100 hours a week. Neurosurgery residents’ duty hours topped the chart at an average of 90.9 hours, followed by doctors in orthopedics, surgery, obstetrics, neurology and internal medicine. Doctors are falling ill or suffering from exhaustion due to occupational hazards.”


Taiwan’s Waste Reduction Miracle

Nate Maynard recalls how Taiwan dragged itself out of a garbage crisis and became a regional leader in reducing harmful waste.

“This trash transformation is a recent phenomenon. In 1993, Taiwan had a collection rate for trash of just 70 percent. That meant 30 percent of Taiwan’s waste entered the environment either through littering or burning.”


The Sights and Sounds of Plastikan, Manila's 'Dumpsite Slum'

Michael Beltran shares his introduction to urban poor movements in the Philippines through a visit to Manila’s notorious plastic neighborhood.

“It was a picture of communal plastic work, almost as if lined up on a conveyor belt. There were man-made ponds placed around the community; some residents were rinsing all sorts of plastics aside them. Others were segregating the white plastics from the colored. They were then loaded into a wooden box about three feet high and formed into cubes. A young boy held this job, standing atop the box mashing the plastic with his feet like he was making wine from grapes.”


INTERVIEW: Wanggo Gallaga on Being HIV Positive in the Philippines

Coco Dollanganger interviews teacher, writer and HIV+ advocate Wanggo Gallaga as the Philippines tries to cope with an HIV epidemic.

“Many times, I will talk to a stranger who messaged me on social media with a fake account asking for advice. They often tell me they are sexually active but they don't get tested regularly and they don't use condoms. Many of these people are young. They are not properly educated about the risks involved. This has to change.”

Part 3 comes tomorrow!

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