Cambodia: Trabant Trek

January 31st, 2008

He likes to say we met on the internet. At the time he and Trabant Trek were somewhere around the Caspian Sea, I think; they were eight people, three Trabants, and a cantankerous Mercedes attempting to drive from Germany to Cambodia. I can’t remember how I came across the trek but I made attempts to join them somewhere in Russia for their Mongolian segment. At the time, no one was interested.

A Trabant, if you don’t know, is a fiber-reinforced plastic shell powered by a 26 hp two-cycle engine. It’s a glorified lawnmower mass produced by East Germany that has finally achieved cult status.

John Lovejoy and party actually made it, about three months late, with some 320 break downs, an abandoned Mercedes, a ravaged and parted-up Trabant also jettisoned, and several people short. Only the core group managed to cross into Cambodia, in the two remaining Trabants, to a grand welcoming by Mith Samlan (Friends International) and M’Lop Tapang. The trip was intended as a fundraiser for the two Cambodian NGO’s serving at-risk youth in Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville.

John was hanging out in Sihanoukville with a writer from AsiaLife Magazine, Charis Schafer, and after all this time I couldn’t miss out on the chance–on the same continent, same country, and even same city–to get to know my internet pen-pal.

And so a rather odd evening began.

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