Not content to just do the Rally in a 20 year old convertible Mini, Christianne and Camilla also went via China, only the second team to ever do so
I think because we did the Rally, two women alone, in such an iconic car, as a fund raiser for the local hospitals children’s ward, we unwittingly created the most amazing amount of goodwill and the whole thing turned out not to be terrifying but life enhancing.
e had a huge amount of spares and Camilla went to the garage before the Rally to learn. We always found our way to fabulous garages who were mad about the car, (1995 convertible Mini), and thought we were so brave that they bent over backwards and dropped everything to help. They were also knocked out by Camilla's knowledge of the car and had huge respect for this. Very often they did not even want to charge
Both of us drive a lot, Camilla in South Africa, me in Europe I am intrepid in cities, Camilla off road so it worked well. We stalled crossing tram lines with trams advancing and had to jump out and push. We also did push starts on the hard shoulder of the Autobahn. Our longest stint I think was 36 hours in Turkmenistan, you just get on with it because you have to. We didn’t worry too much about getting lost. The traffic was bad in Istanbul and Iran but I had survived Naples 35 years ago which was probably worse.
We never felt threatened. We were hassled but only because everyone adored the car, we had quite a lot of problems with people driving dangerously close to video and photo us. Customs and Immigration were a hassle because they all had to get into the car to be photographed. The other ralliers treated us with respect and incredulity when they saw what we were doing the rally in. When we met anyone they were really kind and always offered to help .
We ditched the tent etc in Istanbul to save weight and help the suspension so we had to stay in hotels until we slept in the car for two nights in Mongolia. We knew what we were getting into so roughing it was par for the course. Snickers bars, the occasional vodka based cocktail and the use of steam baths where we found them was the best help. We were happy without creature comforts because we knew it was just for a fixed time and we were focused and determined to drive across that line .
Girls should just do it. Plan carefully and have enough spare cash to get yourself out of trouble. Do it as soon as you can, the World is changing, homogenising, but fracturing from religious fault lines. The most wonderful discovery was that people get enough reward from helping, they do it without expectation of being paid. Rape and pillage is not the intent of men that stop to help , I had to realign my Western expectations.