Proving that even Pakistani truck art can be transcended, our friend Roland reports on the rolling expressions of vehicular art from the West Sumatran culinary capital.

Last fall, professinal services consultant Roland temporarily traded his life of white collars and Yamaha trackdays for a pair of La Sportiva trail shoes, a backpack and plane ticket from Budapest to Budapest in the westerly direction.

While you may sell your Yamaha YZF-R6 to finance a year on the road, you can’t exactly leave your gearhead self at home with your company access card, and Roland is one committed gearhead. It was he who showed us the Big Red Button used to stop the 2009 Malaysian Grand Prix when the downpour became too torrential to bear.

His travels have recently taken him to the Indonesian city of Padang on the west coast of Sumatra, home to an eponymous manner of cooking—and a most amazing fleet of public transport.


Padang’s microbuses—called opelets—are pimped beyond all reason and discipline. “As they hunt for passengers in a cacophony of horns, one cannot help but wonder how a city has acquired such a lunatic gamut of public transport, displaying every sort of aesthetic tuning known to man, including but not limited to colored headlights, fake air scoops, widened wheelarches, copious applications of the air brush, rear wings, lowered suspension and wide tires,” Roland writes on his blog Szabadlábon (“At Large”) and his description is spot on. He goes on to add that a standard element of the Padang opelet interior is the huge subwoofer, subjecting the passengers to the latest in Indonesian pop.

It is a visual smörgåsbord unlike any you’ve seen this side of Pakistan.

Photo Credit: Roland Polyhos