Monday, June 8, 2015

Houtong (猴硐) Cat Village - Shifen (十分) - Shifen Waterfall (十分大瀑布) - Jingtong (菁桐) [Taiwan Day 645: Neverland - June 7, 2015]


What brings me to back to Pingxi? Many would say “I’ve been there. Why would I come back?” I wonder what stops them from going back? Taiwan Day 365 (The Towns That Time Forgot) was so successful that the beautiful memories I made on that day keep coming back. Celebrating your 365th day in Taiwan, writing your wishes and releasing them in the air in the form of a sky lantern makes an unparalleled experience of your lifetime. Newcomers have arrived. It’s time for me to share the experience I had in a place that everyone calls their own fantasy land. 


Like Peter Pan I brought along Jonalyn, Francis and Bryan. We didn’t fly but instead we boarded a train from Nangang until we reach Ruifang. A one-day ticket pass for NTD 64 allowed us to see many places. We needed to transfer to another train at Ruifang Station and it's a colorful orange train known as the Pingxi train. It brought us first to a place called Houtong where cats rule and humans obey.


Humans!



































































Stepping outside of the train station, we saw a sleeping cat and we awakened it. “Humans”, said the cat. We knew we were already in cat village. We explored the area and I interviewed a grumpy cat. It was camera shy and not interested in interacting with people. We entered a shop full of postcards and a white cat was in the cashier area. Feeling hungry? Why not try eating a Meow Meow Cake? But beware you might turn into a cat!

 































On the other side of the Houtong Station was an old coal mining town. The mines had closed and the miners have left but glory days of the black flying dust are still remembered in this place. We wandered around the area and discovered a locomotive garage, a sand drying area and an abandoned dormitory of miners. Who would have thought that this place was going to be preserved? A river divides the area into two and we found the felines’ nemesis – dogs. They were barking at us! Who let the dogs out? 



















The Ruey-San Main Mine looks like a dungeon from the outside. Were there any miners trapped inside? Only the old tunnel knows the answer. The coal transportation bridge stands majestically in the cat town. It looked like a gray rainbow in the area. The Pingxi train was coming back and we went to the station in a hurry or else we have to face the cats’ fury.










We went inside a restaurant and ordered food while it was raining!


































From the cat town we were transported to the sky lantern town, Shifen. My friends couldn’t stop looking at the sky. Sky lanterns were flying everywhere bringing people’s wishes to the heavens May the gods and goddesses read and fulfill them. The rain fell heavily and scared the people. We were forced to look first for the town’s Niagara Falls. We passed by a hanging bridge and an umbrella man led the way. A red wooden pathway leads to the Shifen Waterfalls. We walked along its path until we saw the falls. The water became muddy but the sound it created was music to our ears. 
































The rain stopped and the sun was peeping in the sky. My friends took the chance to write their wishes on a red sky lantern. 1, 2, 3 and they released it until it was out of our sight. Will they get what they ever wanted? The Pingxi train arrived again and we went to the last station, Jingtong. Darkness was creeping in but we still had fun. We were not alone because giant bees and mosquitoes were having a feast in the area. Prayers, wishes and dedications were written on bamboo and hanging around Jingtong. We looked into the heavens and a rainbow appeared in the cloudy sky. We knew that a wish was answered. But whom?





Darkness turned into madness as we waited for the Pingxi train. It’s time to take my friends back to reality. When they arrived home they might think everything was just a dream. They might forget Pingxi but Pingxi will never forget them. They will cease to age and remain forever in the memories of Neverland.
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