I didn’t have a lot of time to spare as I am there to spend a short afternoon while waiting for the next train that would be here after 3 hours. I was sitting at the cafe reading a book over coffee while escaping from the afternoon heat after lugging my baggage to be stowed for afew hours while I explored the place.
Little did I know that I'll chance upon Yilan here. She’s sitting beside me, while she drew on her iPad. I could notice her Luodong top, coupied with her Su'Ao handbag together with the Dongshan sneakers. I darted back at my book and at the corner of my eyes we momentarily exchanged eye contact. I smiled slightly, in case she’s looking and resume reading my book.
“Oh! So you love Jimmy Liao, right?”, she said while lightly tapping on my book.
“Yes! I’m actually here for Jimmy Square!”, I replied excitedly, turning my head up while looking at her on my left.
We spoke and she introduced herself as Yilan. Yilan is an artist, and she went on and show me a variety of her artworks after that I shared with her that I love arts. Swiping and introducing to me each of her characters that she conjured from her emotions. From the whacky purple monsters to the neon pink furball with stripes all over its body, these little monsters certainly left an impression in me. She asked me how long would I be in Yilan, to which I replied that I only have around 3 hours.
“Come come! You only have a few hours”, she finished her coffee as she stood up while gesturing me to follow her.
We pushed our way through the giant oak door that vines entwined across from top-down, and I saw a grass sculpture of Jimmy’s signature rabbit from one of his artistic picture novel. The section of Jimmy Square is beautiful, from the enticing train to the sculptures which breathe life to the lores that he'd created throughout time. These characters are way more alive than they possibly could!
It was beautiful, the galleries, the wonderful array of Jimmy Liao's merchandise. She took me to the happiness transfer station as she tried explaining the various books of Jimmy, while showing me some beautiful works of his that I might like. I fell in love with the experience the same as he’s the one that grew up with me, whispered poetry into my soul and gave me goosebumps and emotions that I never know I have. We sat back by the cafe as I told her about my voyage across the world, while I wrote about different “her” and also my travel stories. I was working on a piece titled “An Open Letter to Jimmy Liao”
“Let me know when you’re done! I’ll love to read and I’ll try mail it to him for you”, she said while sipping her coffee.
“Really?! Thank you”, while my eyes glimmer at the thought of Jimmy reading my letter.
We went back to doing our things, me writing, penning down the feelings and thoughts of my journey while she gets back to doodling on her iPad. The cafe owner topped up her coffee for her and she muttered thanks without looking back up. He gestured with the coffee mug and I said it’s okay, telling him that I have to go soon before going back to writing.
I love how heartwarming the place is, how it felt like home to Yilan as everything falls perfectly in place for her. It was time to go and I packed my stuff while leaving a bunch of my stickers by the cafe, hoping to spread my stories across the world as I write.
“Come here again next time, I’ll like to invite you to my Museum”, she turned and looked up, while giving me a card that she just took from the card case.
“Wait, you owned a museum?!”, I said while looking down at the card.
“Hahah yes, Lanyang Museum, why can’t I own a museum?”, she chuckled.
“Holy!”, I held onto her card as I awe at the magnificent blue block that seem to be raising up from the waters.
“Come I’ll walk you to the train station”, she stood up while leaving her stuff by the countertop. The owner waves me goodbye as I walked away.
It wasn’t too far off, but it is a little tough when you have to lug a huge backpack and a hand-carry with. After a month of traveling, I have collected trinkets and gifts across Taiwan, and I can’t wait to give them to everyone.
“So come over for a longer time next time!”, she said while giving me playful wink while bidding me goodbye.
I smiled and wave and mouthed thank you as the train squeaked into a stop. I think she hears me, as she smiles and gestured a wave before she turned.
Yilan is truly a very underrated gem and I’ll never forget her subtle beauty of arts while her elegance and grace would be etched unexpectedly in my heart. She’s a pleasant surprise, a kindred spirit you will meet at the cafe and a perfect friendship when you realise she shares as much passion as you.