Three Americans and a Briton, after traveling through 21 countries, have arrived in Cambodia by means of two unlikely vehicles — the much maligned Trabant cars produced by the former East Germany.
Throughout their six-month journey, their cars broke down some 320 times. But despite the odds, they reached Cambodia in their quest to raise money for street children in this impoverished Southeast Asian nation.
The Trabant, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, is made mostly of plastic and has a top speed of 50 mph. Its considerable deficiencies have long been the butt of jokes.
John Lovejoy, a 26-year-old American who is the team leader, said Wednesday that the journey has so far raised $16,000, still far short of the original target of $300,000.
He said the money will be given to Mith Samlanh and M'Lop Tapang, two non-governmental organizations working with street children in Cambodia.
"We're passionate about this cause and knew we'd have to take an unusual spin on traditional fundraising tactics to really get the word out," said Lovejoy, from Washington, D.C.
The trip started out in Germany in July last year. It initially included eight people from Europe and the United States, but four dropped out along the way due to problems with the vehicles.
He said that on some days the cars had to be fixed up to 10 times.
The group traveled the cities of Europe, the desert of Turkmenistan, the mountains of Tajikistan, the Kazakh steppe and Siberia during winter, said Dan Murdoch, a 25-year-old Briton from London.
Last month, his team made it across China, spent Christmas and New Year in Laos before arriving in Cambodia via Thailand on Monday, Murdoch said.
"The last few weeks have been really challenging, the cars have been giving us a lot of grief," he said.
After traveling more than 16,100 miles, the group left Phnom Penh Wednesday for Sihanoukville, Cambodia's coastal city, to continue their fundraising and enjoy the beach after the tough trip.