Joel Aronson's
Taiwan Gallery
Getting Down and Around in Taipei
(click on any photograph with a blue border to access a larger image)

Real adventures happened when I came down to the street to mingle with the people, filling my senses with the daily beat of this other culture. An obvious advantage was the ability to speak Chinese with a good degree of fluency, thanks to our military's intensive language training programs.

In those days the tiny island of Taiwan represented all of China among the United Nations. Visits by royalty and heads of state were quite common. I was able to get close to real history when Presidents Eisenhower and Chiang Kai-Shek rode together through Taipei in this open top convertible.

I got around Taipei on a variety of vehicles. After teaching myself how to ride a Lambretta motor scooter, I moved up to this World War II model Harley 74 Knucklehead, paying $400. The Chinese ideograph on the license plate is "bing," the word for "guest."
It had a "suicide" foot clutch and a left hand shift with mechanical reverse gear. Leaning and weaving this heavy machine must have been a sight on the Taipei streets, "cool" enough to get me invited to accompany President Chiang Kai-Shek's motorcycle escort on a few practice rides. Taiwan's climate was mild throughout the year, ideal for motorcycle riding, except during the rainy monsoon season and occasional typhoons.
After a year, I sold the bike to a buddy and bought a car. Back home in the U.S., I rode no other motorcycles until my retirement, when I got my even larger Honda GoldWing. Those long-missed riding skills came back to me in just a few hours of riding the Wing.

After the Harley, I bought this 51 Cadillac 2 door hardtop tank for a thousand dollars. Gas was less than 25 cents a gallon. The Star-of-David flag prompted the Argentine ambassador (also Jewish) to pull me over one day to complain that there was no Israel embassy on Taiwan. I told him that this flag was my personal religious identification and had no political value. Nonetheless, a flagged black Cadillac got one into, or out of, many interesting situations.My military buddies and I often used this car to transport our weapons to firing practice. Talk about making an impression.