|Mine Cart Tour|
In Northern Taiwan between Pingxi and Jiufen is a old coal mining village, now known as "Houtong Cat Village." It was once a thriving village, however in 1990 the coal mining industry died, leaving not much to do in a town way out in the mountains. In 2008, one of the locals named Peggy Chien, began caring for abandoned cats in the area, posting photos online to create awareness. As time went on, the cat population grew and more are more tourists traveled there to see the cats.
|Looking out the window of his tea shop.|
Many Taiwanese and foreigners have actually never heard of this little gem. I personally stumbled upon it accidentally, while doing research about Japan's cat village. It is well worth the visit! The day we went was a bit rainy, so I'm not sure how many tourists there are on a day to day basis, but the Friday that we went was not too crowded with plenty of cats to go around.
|Lonely dog looking for some attention and food in a cat dominated world.|
|Kitty sleeping in the museum blocking interesting info|
The main thing to do in Houtong is basically just walk around and to pet and play with the cats who are very friendly and are used to the attention. There are numerous shops that sell treats and toys to make the experience more fun for you and the cats. There are also several shops that sell all kinds of cat related gifts. If you get thirsty, stop in at one of the cute cat cafes located throughout the town and get a cup of tea. If you are interested in more then just cats, there is a short coal mine train ride for $150 NTD (about $4.50 USD), a small museum (see left picture), and some other coal-mining related attractions.
There was plenty of little shops with lots of cat related things to buy. To top off the atmosphere almost every store was playing the same music, which was cats meowing to Christmas music.
|Kim, Nikki, and Anne Marie petty the few cats brave enough to go out in the rain.|
They day we went rained all day on and off, however this still didn't completely prevent some cats from coming out to visit. It was surprising how friendly all the cats were, they would sit there allowing you to pet them, and pick them up. They clearly are very used to being around strangers. Though, while petting one of the cats (seen in photo above), another cat seemed to be jealous and came over to start hissing at the cat we were petting (see in photo to left). After some yelling at each other the nasty cat left, and we rewarded our brave soldier with more pets.
In Taiwan I am often nervous about the conditions that animals might be living in, however most of these cats seemed vary clean and healthy. And boy, did these cats eat well! There were bowls of kibble set out everywhere and we saw them being fed wet food or sardines on numerous occasions. Some cats seem to be owned by the village, but it also appeared that some cats belonged to various villagers who had businesses there.
|Wifey and I posing around town.|
If you're planning a trip to Pingxi or Jiufen, I'd recommend stopping here on the way. You don't have to spend a lot of time here, but it's definitely worth it to stop by. Then again, if you love cats you could spend hours here in cat heaven.