For as long as I can remember, I have always been a dog person. Never in my life did I tell myself or my parents, that I wanted a cat for a pet. Cats scare me. Just look at those soul piercing eyes
or the killer claws that could tear through all the layers of my skin. So it was quite a surprise that I had the courage (and energy) to go to the little cat village in Houtong.
I set out to the town of cats on my second day in Taipei, right after my vist to Jiufen Old Street. I took the 1602 bus to the Riufang Train Station, which is the main station that connects all the nearest towns to the big city. Once I arrived, I sought out the Information Center that’s right next to the station entrance. The lady working was such a darling for being so eager help. I was to go by the station’s platform gates and tap my Easy Card, that had about 60 TWD left, before allowing myself in. I slowly found my way to Platform 4 where the train to Houtong had already been waiting for a few minutes. I hopped inside, praying that I wouldn’t get smushed by the electronic doors. Thank God I still had a few more minutes before they closed!
I was in Houtong after about 20 minutes, a short but enjoyable ride. As I got down from the platforms, I immediately saw different kinds of cat decor on the ceiling and on the walls. I saw a lone cat inside the station, huddled around by three adults and one child with their cameras out. I knew, right then, that the cat village is as interesting as other people say it is.
And yet, that’s not to say that I was a bit disappointed. I expected cats swarming the village like in that facebook video going around. That wasn’t the case; seeing a big number of cats at one time is quite a rare sight in the village. But don’t let my disappointment ruin your interest because Houtong has quite a story.
Houtong used to be a small, but extremely rich, mining town producing about 220,000 tons of coal per year, which made it the largest distributor in Taiwan. This industry attracted thousands of tourists and immigrants leading to the formation of at least 900 households and a number of around 6,000 residents. But for some reason, that didn’t stop the industry from falling, which eventually led to the decline of the population.
Then in 2008, thanks to some volunteers who decided to take care of the stray cats together with the power of the internet, Houtong slowly became a talked-about tourist attraction to what we now call the Cat Village. Because of this influx of tourists, locals are now making cash by putting up cat-themed cafes and souvenir shops. In literally all the stores I went into, I did not fail to hear songs sung by “cats.” It was mostly songs sung, not in lyrics, but in meows, which truly emphasized the uniqueness that this area has.
The Houtong Cat Village is truly not one to miss! For more info on costs and how to get there, don’t hesitate to send me a message on my contact page, or leave a comment below! 🙂