Here now the translation...
By Registered Mail Starts The Trip Around The World
From Finland to Iran: Johannes Kloss sends his Playmobil figures "Hans" and "Paul" across the continents
Stendal, Germany, Nov. 20, 2012
Like the statue in Stendal's city, Johannes Kloss as well looks through a window into the world by sending his two Playmobil figures Paul (left) and Hans to different countries. When they return they bring with them interesting stories. Photo: Susanne Moritz
Despite his 28 years, Johannes Kloss remained a child. Departing from Stendal, Germany, he sends two Playmobil figures across the world so that foreign people may take photos of the two.
Hans and Paul have already seen and experienced a lot. For more than three years now, the two best friends travel around the world and stick together through thick and thin. Their friendship is something special because Hans and Paul are no human beings of flesh and blood but only Playmobil figures. Johannes Kloss sends them across the globe regularly so that foreign people may take photos of his plastic friends.
Numerous postcards and vacation snapshots of Hans and Paul decorate the walls of Johannes Kloss' apartment. The 28 year old, born in Kassel, Germany, is the travel agency of these two permanent tourists, so to speak. He coordinates and plans which country comes next on Hans and Paul’s route. The next destination is already fixed: Soon, the two will fly to New Zealand for some weeks, heading to Australia afterwards, because they have not yet been to the fifth continent.
Globetrotters Hans and Paul already visited a lot of countries which is proven by the large number of souvenir photos.
But how and why do Playmobil figures travel in the first place? One day, when rummaging around the attic of his parents, Johannes Kloss found Hans – a blond fellow with a green slouch hat and a camera. And then, the remedial-teacher-to-be got an exceptional idea: As he could not travel by himself at that time, he decided to send Hans into the wide world instead. But how? Via the internet, Johannes Kloss contacted people in the whole world.
Straightaway, all were enthusiastic to receive Playmobil figures from Germany and to take photos of them on special places in the world. And you can really rely on people: After a few weeks, they send back Hans and Paul by mail. "People thought this was a funny idea, totally cool, and they played along immediately. Nobody opposed to it", says Johannes Kloss.
2009 he sent Hans on his first big trip to a lady in Houston, USA. After a few weeks he travelled directly from there to Philadelphia. But Hans did not return home at first. Only after his best friend Paul searched for him for weeks and almost gave up hope, the two run across each other in Stendal. Since then, Johannes Kloss only sends the duo on their way together by registered mail. "This is much safer for them", he says and smiles impishly.
Girl’s school in Iran, Finnish sauna, offshore platform
The most exciting trip of the two friends was to Iran. As it was too insecure to send Hans and Paul by mail, they were smuggled into the Muslim country in a purse. Almost four months they stayed there. The highlight was their visit to an Iran girl’s school which of cause was documented by a photo.
But also in Sweden, Taiwan, Austria, Estonia, Finland and in the USA there was much to see. So, for example, photos were taken in a Finnish sauna, in barracks in Austria or on an offshore platform in the North Sea where the two signed up for four weeks. The adventurers also spend a night in an igloo, relaxed at Lake Wolfgang in Austria as well as in the vastness of the American prairie. Meanwhile, in Finland, the two Playmobil tourists are little stars. At least they made it into a Finnish women’s magazine. "In Finland, people are quite creative in taking nice photos", says Johannes Kloss, who regularly publishes travel reports of his plastic friends in the internet.
However, he does not want to make money from his extraordinary idea and therefore, he does not insert advertisements in his web page. For him, it rather is about international understanding: "It is important that people have fun. Besides, they thus can give an insight into everyday routines in their home country."
Presently, Hans and Paul are in the middle of preparing their trip to New Zealand. Soon it’s time to pack the bags, put on the rucksacks and jump into the Tupperware box in which Johannes Kloss sends them out into the world.
If you want to read more about the trips of Hans and Paul, go to www.hans-the-backpacker.blogspot.com