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Every once in awhile life gives you a little bonus. Such was the case when I had an overnight layover with two other travelers in Taiwan enroute home from Indonesia. Our plane landed late in the evening in Taipei, where we were met and escorted to our hotel by a driver and guide. Two of us had never been to Taipei and, despite the brevity of our stay, decided to sign on with Fred, the guide, for a quick tour of the city the next morning.
I knew we would have time to see very little, but what we saw was well worth the effort, especially with Fred as our guide. Our first stop was the National Palace Museum, housing one of the largest collections of Chinese artifacts in the world. Knowing our time was limited, Fred took us to the highlights, provided commentary on what we were about to see and let us set the pace as we took in the displays.
By the time we left the museum, we were hungry, and we were in for a treat: lunch at Din Tai Fung on the lower level of the building known as Taipei 101, which at 509 meters high was briefly the tallest building in the world. Like the structure in which it’s located, Din Tai Fung is also world famous—not for its size, but for its tasty assortment of steamed dumplings prepared by a bevy of sure-handed chefs who work at breathtaking speed behind large viewing windows. Fred ordered several varieties—all light and flavorful—for us to sample.
The best thing about the Taipei tour, however, was Fred himself. His conversation is sprinkled with quotes from Confucius. He tells us he lived and worked in the Netherlands for two years, during which he went to Switzerland and took some training on the conscious and the subconscious. He’s intrigued by that. “I’m still trying to figure out why I’m here,” he confides happily. “What is the purpose of life?”
And I thought I was the only one who still pondered such things at this stage of life. Viva, Fred! To arrange your tour and your chat with Fred, here’s what you need to know: firstname.lastname@example.org. In case you find yourself in Taipei with time to tour, I highly recommend him.