Gary and his Project
Day 950 - 951
Once again, we meet the warmest and friendliest of people. We return to Tamsui and after a dodgy start, things get better. We meet Joyce and Gary and learn all about his next project.
We arrived in Tamsui to discover that someone else was in our room. Luckily there was another room across the hall. It certainly wasn’t one of our better accommodations; bed on the floor, bare walls and dreadfully creased sheets. And no towels either! Well, some paper towels, but that’s not good enough.
The host informed us via messenger that towels were on the ground floor – in the vending machine! No – we are not going to pay £2.75 each for a thin tea towel. The details of this accommodation said that these were provided. I must say that the host handled the issue well and said that he would get some delivered for free.
It was nearly 16:13, we needed to get outside as there was a partial solar eclipse. The sky was clear, so we were hoping for great things. I could see the outline of the moon over the sun, but it certainly didn’t show up in the photo. Oh well.
We decided to hire a car for the following day as we want to go to the north coast to see some interesting rock formations. We walked up the steep hill to the rental car hire but sadly, as it is the Dragon Boat Festival this week, all the cars have been hired out. Bus - it will be then.
In desperate need of some refreshments; we used our trusted Google maps, Tim found QP Café - Quality and Professional Roasting and making coffee. And that’s when our plans for tomorrow changed.
We sat down and was greeted warmly by Joyce. It was far too late for coffee, so she recommended some fruit teas. I’m not overly keen on them, but worth giving them a try. The pear one was superb. The best fruit tea I have ever tasted.
Shortly afterwards, Joyce’s husband, Gary, came and sat with us. What a lovely couple.
Gary (Professor Ye Yongyu) used to be a surgeon and worked in a few places around the world. He is such a fascinating guy; we could have talked with him for ages. He now teaches in a nearby University and will be retiring from there next week, but then told us about his next project. I quickly sussed out that this man likes a challenge.
Suddenly he asked if we’d like to see his project tomorrow and of course, never to turn down an opportunity, we said yes. So – our plans have changed. We can hop on the bus the following day.
He showed us around. There were some lovely large paintings he bought from one of his talented students, Steven Kuo, and an enormous table at the back of the café. His friend had the piece of wood in storage, and when he said that he was creating this place, she offered it to him. It is stunning.
As we were about to leave, I asked Gary about the buses going to the Laomei Green Reefs where we wanted to visit. Again, he spontaneously said that he would drive us there now to see the sunset. His delightful 18-year-old daughter, Shannon, thought this a great idea, we’d be passing her favourite dumpling store, so together we climbed in Gary’s car and off we went.
I was a little surprised as it was getting late and I was sure that Laomei was a good 40 minutes away. The traffic was heavy, so we settled for dumplings instead, and returned to Tamsui, looking forward to seeing Gary again tomorrow.
The next morning, we returned to the café and Joyce offering us some iced coffee before making me a cappuccino and Tim a hot Americano. Gary and Joyce are very serious about roasting the finest selection of coffees, and our drinks were outstanding. This is such a special place, yes, there is quite a lot of stuff scattered around, but that’s part of the charm. It’s not like being in a café but in Joyce and Gary’s home.
There were a group of four friends chatting with Gary, customers who have all now become friends. We have a sneaky feeling this happens a lot. Later, as we were about to leave with Gary, one of the customers brought out some cake for us all to eat. Another couple of men joined in the fun; the cake was sliced into 10 for us all to share. How lovely is that!
We walked over to the nearby University, through some beautiful gardens to a building that Gary has just taken over the lease. He wants to turn this into a restaurant. We can see why. It has so much potential and Gary has ideas a minute! We so love his enthusiasm.
I asked him what the three words are that he wants for the restaurant. “History” was the first word, as this building used to be the home of a former principal and was built 80 years ago, which is old for Tamsui’s standard.
The second word was “reunite”. Gary wants the restaurant to be a noteworthy alumni. We can imagine special evenings with old and new professors connecting over a delicious meal, perhaps with a speaker talking about the history of the area. I am sure Gary has plenty of ideas on how to entertain his guests.
We never did find out what the third word was.
As I used to run large complex projects in my past, I shared how I would start a project – brainstorming with post-it notes. I could see Gary thinking this through – he seemed to love the idea.
After lunch, we met up with Gary again as he wanted us to meet his students. It transpired that he taught at Aletheia University. We tried to visit this place with my sister, Jac, back in March. It was the first western school in Taiwan completed in 1882, which was then called Oxford College. Rev Dr George Leslie Mackay instigated this (Remember him from Day 848?)
He was involved in the entire process, including choosing the location, creating the blueprint, supervising the workers and importing the building materials. He reminds us of a particular person we have been spending some time with – Gary!
We entered the classroom, and the 20-year-old students looked quite surprised to see us. Gary, or should I now call him Professor Ye Yongyu, was teaching the students about business ethics. We asked them a few questions, but most of the young people seemed painfully shy. It probably didn’t help with the language barrier. It was time for the students to get on with their studies, so we went to Meiyuan, Garden the Beautiful, a scenic spot within the campus with bridges over the ponds teeming with fish and turtles.
Time flew by until the University clock struck five, and the students piled out of their classes.
Gary took us back to the café, and we ended up chatting with Joyce with her daughter showing us her hilarious Tik Tok renditions! She is such a delightfully joyful young lady. And we later met their son as he returned from school.
It was lovely getting to know Joyce more, but the conversation veered back to talking about Gary’s project. Despite turning 65 soon, this man does not stop; if it’s not a challenging project to overcome, then he is an avid collector. Let’s just say that he nearly has a different bike to ride for each day of the month!
What a wonderfully delightful family, in such a short space of time, we feel we have gained some more friends. And the coffee and pear tea is delicious as well.