During the Polish People’s Republic time (1950s to late 1980s), Fiat 126p was the most popular car in the country. It served as a family automobile, even though there was no more room left for baggage after a family of four got in. Questionable driving comfort and high failure frequency is all you need to know about The Maluch (its nickname literally means “the little one”, or “the little guy”, and is a commonly recognized cultural icon in Poland).
Some people have a certain fondness for it, though. One of them being Arkady Paweł Fiedler, the grandson of a well-known Polish writer and adventurer Arkady Fiedler.
Arkady wants to keep the family tradition going, and despite all odds, take the car on a spin around the world. Will the Maluch make it? This question remains to be answered. So far, the Fiat 126p has been doing pretty well. It already crossed Poland in 2009 and Africa (!) in 2014.
When in late 2015 Arkady offered me to join a wild ride across Asia, I had to think about it first. This wasn’t an easy decision. We were scheduled to leave Poland in June 2016. The deadline seemed remote… I was supposed to leave my wife and a six-month old daughter for over 3 months? Well, we all got together and decided that this is a project we can’t pass on.
My job was to develop a documentary showing Arkady Fiedler’s ride across Asia. We ended up with 7TB of material, including more than 100 timelapses, and several hours of drone shots.
Asia OnTheWay is consists of over 3 months on the road. It’s a 14,000+ mi drive from Puszczykowo (Poland) to Vladivostok (Russia). The Fiat 126p burned 253 gallons of gas while crossing Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan (twice), Kyrgyzstan (twice), Tajikistan, Mongolia, and Russia (twice).
The Maluch climbed 15,272 ft AMSL twice (the Ak-Baital Pass, Tajikistan). Its longest single day run was 308 mi in Kazakhstan. The shortest was 27 mi on the last day of the trip, in Russia. During the journey, The Maluch caught flat tire once. Among the replaced parts were: the starter, inductor (twice), ignition module, carburetor, master cylinder, oil (5x), 7 air filters, and 5 fuel filters. On top of that, while we were still in Poland, two connecting rods had to be replaced as well, because of a knocking in the engine. Still, the knocking proved to be a faithful companion along the entire journey. Moreover, somewhere in Wachau valley, Arkady had to straighten a clamp under the gearbox, that got bent on a stone.
It’s sort of funny and shows the resilience of The Maluch, that it was not supposed to “live through” Pamir (Tajikistan), but travelled halfway across the globe instead.
This Asian adventure has taught me a lot. We’ve met so many incredible people along the way. Seen so many beautiful, surreal landscapes. It was a long and rough road. It was hot (102 F) and cold (23 F). It was fun and teaching. Most of all, it was absolutely amazing. The journey was a success thanks to the hard work put in by the entire Asia OnTheWay team: Arkady Fiedler, Kamil Piechowiak, Albert Wójtowicz, Kuba Kiub, Bartek Zborek. Words can’t express how much I’m grateful to you, guys!
Here’s the teaser for the “Asia OnTheWay” documentary.
Cast: KamKam Visuals