Huang Yung-fu is coming close to being a century old. He is a retired soldier who fought in the Republic of China’s army and fled to Taiwan in the 1940’s. Today he wakes up every morning at 3 a.m to decorate the town that became his home in the 40’s. Mr. Huang is also known as ‘Rainbow Grandpa’. And he lives in the Nantun district of Taichung City in Taiwan. A few years ago the town hosted around 1 200 low-cost homes for veterans and their families. These homes became run-down and developers purchased the land and offered to purchase the homes from the residents.
Soon there were only 11 houses left in the area. Huang Yung-fu’s house was one of them. He did not want to move as this was the only home he had ever known in Taiwan. Mr. Huang was one of the last villagers left and soon became bored. He decided to take up painting – a skill his father taught him when he was five years old, but one he hadn’t practiced since he was a child.
He started painting various vibrantly coloured figures and creatures on the walls of his home. He was asked to paint some of his neighbours’ homes and painting to ease boredom soon became a labour of love. Every day Mr. Huang gets up at 3 a.m. to add more colour to the town. He paints homes and doors, roofs, and even walkways. Animals, flowers, cartoons and even celebrity singers and sportsmen decorate every surface imaginable.
Mr. Huang’s work was discovered by students from a local university and quickly gained more attention. The town has become one of the most visited touristic attractions in Taichung with more than a million visitors annually.
As the popularity of Rainbow Family Village grew, and more and more tourists visited the area, the government has decided to cease their plans of demolishing the remaining houses in the town. There are talks making Rainbow Family Village a designated cultural area.
Rainbow Family village is a perfect daytrip from Taipei. Visitors can get from Taipei to Taichung by the Taipei High-Speed Rail. From Taichung visitors can take a taxi or Uber, jump on a bus, or take a 45-minute walk to get to the village.
It takes about an hour to wander through the village and admire all the artwork. It is best to aim at arriving as the village opens, or visiting on a weekday to avoid the crowds.
The village is open every day from 8 a.m to 6 p.m. and if you are lucky you might get to meet Grandpa Rainbow.
Rainbow Family Village is more than just an interesting place to visit. It is the physical evidence of a man’s labour of love. It draws visitors from all over the wold, hoping to meet this inspiring man, and to add a little bit of joy and colour to their travels.
*A version of this article first appeared at www.zafigo.com