I'm allergic to cats. I'm a dog person. But, I have two children that I'm trying to take to interesting places in Taiwan, so when I read about this "Town of Cats" just a few train stations away from Taipei, I decided to take an antihistamine and visit the "Cat Village" at Houtong Train Station.
|Had a few camera problems, but you get the idea.
It was pretty crowded on the local train, but most people got off at Reifang (also a good spot to stop). We carried on to Houtong, one of the many ex-mining townships on the Coast. Coal mining was a big industry in Taiwan during the Japanese Occupation era. The last coal mine closed down in the mid-1980's. Houtong is known for the mine pit that opened in 1935. And, its cats.
At the station, you can purchase a postcard with a cat image on it and post it back to yourself, or anywhere else in the world. For TWD30, you can make a DIY souvenir coin. Or, you can just head up to the houses on the hill across the railway tracks to see the cats.
My son loves cats and spent a long time with each friendly kitty. It's a bit of a hike around the little paths and it smells like cat poop, especially in the heat, so for me it was not that much fun. It is not stroller-friendly, and you would have to watch a toddler like a hawk on the path. My daughter couldn't take it anymore and walked by herself toward the station, so my son had to cut the cat admiring session short. There is a cafe and DIY room up on the hill but neither were open when we were there.
|It got a bit hot and noisy for the cats and people.
|View of the trains from the village.
|I was watching the weather!
|Outside seating at cafe.
|Nice grassy area with path down to the Keelung River.
|Rapids on the Keelung River.
|Walking on the bridge that is under restoration.
|Very nice toilet block across the bridge.
Destination: 侯硐火車站 Houtong Train Station
Suitable age: Five and up (not good for strollers)