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Best known for diverse films such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; Eat Drink Man Woman; and Brokeback Mountain, Academy Award-winning director, screenwriter, and seasoned traveler Ang Lee returns to his Taiwanese roots with the highly anticipated film Life of Pi. Based on the best-selling book by Yann Martel, the adventure-drama follows the epic journey of a young man and a Bengal tiger who have survived a disaster at sea.The beautifully shot footage depicts Pi and his companion as they drift across three continents and two oceans. Lee chose to film on location at Taiwan’s Bashia Bay (which doubled as a beach in Mexico) and the famed Bashia Bay in India, incorporating the 1,000-year-old Villianur Temple into the film. He explains what he loves about the book and his native land.

ADAPTING LIFE OF PI TO THE BIG SCREEN: I felt this was a very attractive book. When I first read it, I found it to be both fascinating and mind-boggling. It was my kind of thing to direct. I knew there would be a challenge dealing with animals and filming in 3-D.

PONDICHERRY BOTANICAL GARDENS DOUBLES AS A ZOO: I was surprised to discover there was no zoo as depicted in Yann Martel’s book. I envision that years from now tourists who have seen the movie will come to Pondicherry to look for a zoo from the Life of Pi. We also filmed in the Taipei zoo.

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT TAIWAN: The country has the nicest people anywhere, and they are very generous and lovely. There is a beautiful island feel. It’s a very comfortable place to visit. I personally favor the east coast of Taiwan as it is less developed.

TRY TAIWANESE FOOD: Taiwan has the best places to eat. During the [Chinese] Civil War, people fled to Taiwan to survive and brought culture and good food. The last 30 years have been very innovative, and we have seen a lot of Japanese influences. The small villages contain some of the most exquisite food. My favorite “little eats” in Taiwan are small seafood dishes.

MY FAVORITE DIRECTORS AND FILMS: I love Ingmar Bergman, Billy Wilder, and Stanley Kubrick. All of my films are my babies and I have no particular favorite, except for maybe Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

MY DREAM VACATION: That would be some lazy place, like a heavenly beach in the Caribbean. The problem is my wife likes a chalet in the mountains.

WHEN BUSINESS BECOMES PLEASURE: We are in an adventurous business where travel can be work. I love to direct — when I am working, everyone listens to me. But at home, no one pays attention!

I NEVER TRAVEL WITHOUT: My passport.