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French ex-envoy gives thanks 27 years later

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Retired French diplomat Monique Dodiner returned to Taiwan to present a flight ticket stub that the retired president of Lanyu's Tung Ching Elementary School, Chen Ching-cheng (陳清正), gave her 37 years ago.

Dodiner said that the flight ticket that Chen gave her helped her to return from Lanyu to Taitung in 1977, and she decided to present him with the ticket that she has saved for 37 years as a way to show her appreciation.

According to Dodiner, she backpacked around the world when she was 26, and took a boat to Lanyu by herself. When Chen saw her trying to ask local residents if she could spend the night at a local pavilion, he offered to let her stay in the elementary school, out of concern for her safety.

Chen said that Dodiner stayed in Lanyu for four days because she did not know when the ferry would take her back to Taitung due to the heavy rain, and she did not choose to take a plane in order to save some money.

According to Chen, he gave her NT$1,000, which allowed her to purchase a ticket to return back to Taitung.

Chen said that the one-way ticket from Lanyu to Taitung was NT$450 37 years ago, and the cost for a ferry ticket was NT$110.

Dodiner, who is 64 years old now, surprised Chen by visiting him and presenting him with the 37-year-old ticket.

Chen said that he and Dodiner had occasionally written to each other, but they lost contact after Chen moved.

Dodiner said that whenever she was transferred to a new country as a French diplomat, she would ask every Asian if they came from Taiwan. She said that she met a Taiwanese Air Force officer, Lin Hua-sheng, who helped her to reconnect with Chen.

Now that she is retired, Dodiner said, she scheduled a trip to Taitung to present the flight ticket to Chen in person to express her appreciation to him after 37 years.

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Retired French diplomat Monique Dodiner shows her flight ticket stub from 1977 in Taitung, yesterday. Dodiner said that the ticket that Chen gave her helped her to return from Lanyu to Taitung in 1977, and she decided to present him with the ticket that she has saved for 37 years as a way to show her appreciation. (CNA)

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