I’m now on my second month playing this crazy cat collecting game called Neko Atsume. Believe me when I say that something as pointless as luring cats to your yard can be very addicting–so much that it influenced me to visit Houtong Cat Village at the Ruifang area, when I was in Taiwan.
Houtong used to be a prosperous coal mining town, until the industry hit a decline sometime in the 90s. If you head outside the train station and walk near the parking lot, you’d see a small tourist office / museum that more or less tells the story–in Chinese. Haha! Anyway, the place is now popular for its (fat) cat population and my guess is that it’s living off on tourism dollars.
Cats aside, Houtong is actually pretty, being tucked away in the midst of mountains.
It’s connected to Taipei via the railway and is only a few minutes away via cab from another tourist hub, which is Jiufen Old Street. The biggest disadvantage of being in a country with very few English speakers is the difficulty in communicating. I literally had to meow to the cabbie for him to understand where we wanted to go. Haha!
This is what to expect when you get to the train station.
Following that, you can already enjoy fat cats galore. If we had gone to the village under better circumstances (aka more cooperative weather), I’m sure we’d see fatties in droves. 🙂
As expected, they have heaps of cat souvenir stores that sell cat-things–coasters, plushies, glasses, notebooks, eye patches, underwear, you name it. Some of them don’t allow photography though.
Verdict: Houtong is something you can include in the itinerary when you’re in Ruifang. It’s not exactly THE go-to destination, but it may be worth the visit if you’ve been single for so long and you’re about 50% sure you’d end up a crazy cat lady.
Kidding. Just go here if you love cats. 😀