Tuesday, 7 October 2014

A Cat Village named Houtong 猴硐

Tuesday, 7 October 2014
In the midst of trying to clear all my back dated travel adventures as more people are asking me about the places I've been to in Taiwan! It seems as though Taiwan is becoming a very popular destination for eh? Hahahaha its a good choice choosing Taiwan! I've been here for 6 months now and I haven't regretted my decision yet (hopefully not anytime soon cos I still have 3 months left HAHA) 

Been to Houtong 猴硐 some time back when I was traveling around Taipei (North part of Taiwan) as I heard it was a cat village! When I was in Japan this August, I heard a lot about cat cafes but never visited one cos it was pretty expensive. I think a visit can cost up to 3500-5000Yen (SGD$40-60) including food as the money is used to maintaining their cats! If I'm not a student traveling on a budget I probably would have paid to play with the little kitties <3

So anyway, back to Houtong (got this bad habit of drifting HAHA) where it's a pretty reasonable price to pay for a train ticket from Taipei Main Station to Houtong Station. I can't remember the exact cost but it was anywhere around 50-70NT (SGD$2-4)! Many people will take Houtong as a stop over destination before visiting Shifen 十分 (the place where you release the lanterns) as it is on the way!
 We were greeted by lazy cats sleeping and lying around as we exited the station
 Doesn't he look a bit like Garfield?
 Idk but this kitty looks scared to me, doesn't it? Or maybe I was just bothering her afternoon nap LOL.

Of course, it will take you probably 30-40 mins if you're just there to take some pictures, feed some cats and leave. However, there is a row of cafes that have their own residential cats that are friendly to play with. We picked a cafe that looked cosy and went in to have a drink! The little kitty below is only a few months old and super hyperactive (as with all children alike yes?)
Below are more pictures of the adopted cats from other cafes! 
 THIS IS MY FAVOURITE PICTURE. Like omg? How cute is the cat sticking out its tongue while sleeping?!?!?!^^
 Grumpy white kitty
Over the years as this place becomes a residential area for many kitties, cat lovers built houses for these stray cats to live in. Many shops within Houtong also adopted some of these cats. I will suggest this place only to people who love cats or if you're not in a rush for time simply because there are really only cats in this area. 
However, don't hold your expectations too high if you're hoping to see hundreds of cats swarming to you for attention! There isn't that many! The good thing is, if you're afraid of cats, you can still visit this place as they will not attack you or come too close for comfort HAHA. They are super friendly but not very proactive as there are many tourist everyday showering them with love. Go if you are planning a chill day in Taiwan!
 A rare dog appears and I heard its often bullied by the cats!
I guess its the cat in the bottom picture >:(

As mentioned earlier, Houtong is often a place for people to stop by before visiting Shifen. However, if you planned your trip such that you visited Shifen along with Jiufen, do not worry about having nothing to do after Houtong! 
What I did was that I visited Houtong after lunch and chilled at the cafe while playing with the kitties till evening before heading over to Keelung! The night market there is fantastic. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND a visit there. 
You can take the train down from Houtong to Keelung (its about 15-25 mins). You will need to change train at Badu Station and you will reach Keelung one stop from there. 

A little bit more about Keelung Night Market:
It has one of the most delicious street food I have tasted while in Taiwan. I've visited every single night market in Taipei and I can safely say, if you visited any 3, you would have visited all and tasted all. Keelung Night Market is a different attraction all on its own (in terms of layout, type of food they sell etc.) So be sure not to miss it if you do have a little bit more time to travel out of Taipei! 
There is a Kuokuang 國光 bus from Keelung station straight to Taipei in 30-45 mins! Be sure to take that instead of the train as it is half the time back! 
Be sure to look out for my Keelung Night Market post too! ;) *winks*