If you know me you probably already know that I love cats. I love shop cats. I love stray cats. I love pampered little Persian kittens. Some of my favorite pokémon? Meowth and Skitty. I will seriously go out of my way to chase down a cat and give it lots of snuggles. Here’s what sucks though, I have really really really bad allergies. Coupled with my asthma, spending too much time with cats (about two hours) can send me to the emergency room. It would have been smart of me to bring my inhaler to Taiwan, but I like to live life on the edge. Also I’m stupidly forgetful and I left it in my apartment back in Ithaca. However, I am safe and well after visiting Houtong. I had a little bit of a scare, but after wearing a surgical mask and washing my hands a few times I dodged a trip to the hospital!
Houtong was a bit of a journey to get to. It’s about one hour away from Taipei Main Station and you need to take two TRA trains to get there. The Pingxi Line only runs once every 45 minutes so you really need to be careful when you buy your tickets. It was such a pain but completely worth it to play with cats all day.
Before Houtong was known as a cat village, it used to be home to a coal mine. However, as the coal mining industry declined people moved away and the village was forgotten. Despite the cats being their claim to fame, Houtong dedicates a lot to their mining history. There’s a small museum about the mining process that has a little cafe attached to it. While we were there we even got to ride in an old mine cart and play with jackhammers! It was super fun, but sadly there are no photos because it was really dark inside the mine and it was raining while we were playing with power tools.
In 2008 tourism sparked as a local cat lover started a program to give stay cats homes. As volunteers started uploading photos of the cats, people started to visit Houtong to see them for themselves. Now there’s cat themed cafes, souvenir shops, and bakeries! Almost all of the shops we visited played cat themed music too… that was kind of wild.
If you’re looking for a fun day trip I would highly recommend visiting Houtong and then going to Shifen to float some paper lanterns. That was our plan, but when we got to Shifen there was a horrible downpour. But I’m definitely going to do it the next time I visit! In Houtong there’s also a really pretty area where you can take pictures of the Keelung River.
Anyway, two posts in a row is definitely a record for me, so you should all stay tuned when I take a break from travel photos and start talking about makeup next week. Speaking of makeup, isn’t the red eyeshadow look I’m rocking super cool? Sorry, just had to put that out there. See you all soon!
It’s really hard to tell which photos are whose in a Google Drive! All of these photos were edited by me and most of them were also taken by me, but a big thank you to Justin and Henry for also letting me share a couple of their photos.