Fri, Sep 06, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Russian leopard cat artist to visit Taiwan

GENEROUS HEART:Minister Lin Chia-lung said he hopes Katya Molodtsova, who offered free use of her designs, will become a tourism ambassador for Taiwan

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

The Russian illustrator Katya Molodtsova who became famous because of the controversy surrounding a theme train on the Taiwan Railways Administration’s Jiji (集集) branch line, has said that she plans to visit Taiwan this month, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) said yesterday.

The nation is to observe the 20th anniversary of the 921 earthquake in Nantou County’s Jiji Township, which was why the Tourism Bureau rolled out the theme train in the first place, Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said.

Despite there being controversy over the designs of leopard cats for the train, the incident ended up facilitating an exchange between Taiwan and Russia, Lin said, adding that the nation has also successfully invited Molodtsova to come and visit Taiwan.

The theme train’s designer Chiang Meng-chih (江孟芝) initially said that her team had drawn leopard cats to decorate the train, but it was soon discovered that the illustrations were of leopards, not leopard cats.

Chiang then admitted that she had purchased the images from an online gallery.

The bureau said that, as a solution, it asked the design team to come up with three leopard cat illustrations.

Molodtsova, who had drawn the leopard pictures that Chiang had purchased online, soon heard about leopard cats’ plight as an endangered species in Taiwan. She then volunteered to create three leopard cat illustrations that people in Taiwan could use free of charge.

The bureau initially refused the offer.

However, Lin said that the bureau should not turn away such a generous offer and should use her illustrations in some way.

He then left a message on Molodtsova’s Instagram account to thank her for the illustrations and for her generosity, adding that he invited her to attend the launch ceremony of the renovated train on Sept. 21.

The bureau then said that leopard cats designed by Chiang and Molodtsova would both appear on the theme train.

Lin said yesterday that Russian tourists are allowed to visit Taiwan visa-free for three weeks.

“We hope that [Molodtsova] can fall in love with the country, become our tourism ambassador in Russia and convince more Russian visitors to visit Taiwan,” Lin said.

To welcome Molodtsova, Lin said in a video message on his Facebook page that he has learned to say “How are you?” “Fine, thank you” and other basic phrases in Russian.

Molodtsova responded to Lin’s message, saying that she should learn some Chinese as well, to which Lin replied by teaching her some basic phrases, such as “Good to see you,” “Thank you” and “It is delicious” in Mandarin.

Molodtsova is to arrive in Taiwan on Sept. 17, Tourism Bureau Director-General Chou Yung-hui (周永暉) said.

On Sept. 18, she is to attend the launch of the theme train, as well as the opening of the Railway Tourism School in Checheng Township (車埕) near Jiji.

The bureau said that Molodtsova would stay until Sept. 21.

Molodtsova would also spend one night at Sun Moon Lake (日月潭) and visit the Rainbow Village (彩虹眷村) in Taichung, Astoria Cafe in Taipei, scenic spots along the coast in the north and northeast, and other tourist attractions, the bureau said.

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