Cars survived but are in poor shape, says Trabant expedition leader Dan Přibáň

Photo: archive of TransTrabant

Members of a Czech-led expedition traveling in Fiats, Jawa motorcycles, and Trabants across Australia and Southeast Asia, have returned to Prague. In the past, the team tackled South America and Africa, producing popular documentaries. They filmed their latest journey as well.

Dan Přibáň,  photo: Adam Kebrt
I spoke to expedition head Dan Přibáň asking him about some of his impressions from Southeast Asia.

“Bali is a very nice island but I was surprised by the whole of Indonesia. At first, because of Bali, I was worried that Indonesia was a very touristy country. But it isn’t true. Sure, you’ll see westerners on the beaches but if you travel inland, it’s just locals and the same is also true for the rest of the country. If you travel inland 20 – 100 kilometres it is just locals and it is a completely different world form the beaches with surfers and women in bikinis. It was not the world from travel agency catalogues, it was completely different.”

You told Czech Radio that you are waiting now for the cars to be returned from Thailand, where your journey ended. What kind of shape are the Trabants in?

“We had a lot of technical problems this time around, more than on any of the previous expeditions. I cannot think of a single thing in the cars which did not break! So they are in poor shape and everything has to be repaired: the body, the engine, everything.”

You said in the past that Trabants were great because you could fix almost everything with just a hammer and perhaps a wrench: is that still true?

Photo: archive of TransTrabant
“Absolutely. There were so many problems that if a hammer and rock weren’t enough the expedition would have ended right at the beginning in Australia! So yes, you can repair them anywhere and if we had had a more complicated car, we wouldn’t have completed the trip.”

This expedition across Australia and Southeast Asia was preceded by a very successful crowdfunding campaign: did you treat yourself to any comforts in either the Trabants or the Fiats or Jawa motorcycles which you didn’t have before?

“No, no. We bought better cameras and equipment to make the movie which we promised our backers in the crowdfunding campaign. We promised to make a great movie. But the vehicles were the same. No air conditioning or anything like that! The same cars like we had in South America, we only opted for better cameras!”