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Interview with Pam on her way to Mongolia: “The Mongol Rally will change your life, in many ways”

24 July 2012 interview 1 comment

Pamela MacNaughtan in her car on the way to Mongolia

A couple of weeks ago, I heard from Earl that some girls want to buy a Dacia Logan from Romania and drive it to Mongolia. What a hell ! Why Dacia ? And why to Mongolia ? So, slowly, slowly, a discovered the Mongol Rally and the great adventure. Meanwhile, I also discovered two Romanian teams – Daciotii who are driving an old Dacia 1310 and an all-girls team – Fire Fairies on the way to Mongolia as well… but I would like to ask some questions to Pam  and Charlie from SM Stowaway – a Canadian / US all-female team ready to drive on the Silk Road towards the country of Genghis Han.

So, who are you – Charlie & Pam ?

I (Pam) am a travel writer/blogger from Canada, and Charlie is a photographer and art gallery owner from New York.


How did you team up together ? What means SM Stowaway ?

Charlie and I met over Twitter through a mutual friend, Sherry Ott. Charlie was looking for teammates for the rally, and when I saw a tweet from Sherry about it, I knew I wanted in, so I responded, and, well, the rest is history! As for the meaning of our team name, you tell us! What do YOU think the ‘SM’ in SM Stowaway means?!


By the way, what is exactly Mongol Rally ?

The Mongol Rally is 10,000 + kms of intense adventure, and it’s all in the name of charity. It’s raw, messy, and frustrating. It’s cool, exciting, and the ultimate adrenaline rush.


To whom you gonna make the donations ?

The donations go to the Lotus Children’s Centre in Ulaan Bataar, Mongolia. Lotus takes in street kids, and abandoned babies. They raise the children in the traditional nomadic lifestyle, and give them realistic goals and expectations.


Who are your sponsors ? How did you get their commitment ?

We’re lucky to have some amazing sponsors. Intrepid Travel (whose foundation supports the Lotus Children’s Centre) came onboard and sponsored our car! We’re also lucky to have Go with Oh, HostelBookers, OrtaBlu, Small Car Big City, Wardour and Oxford, and Steve Errey. Many of our sponsors came on board after hearing about the Mongol Rally, and really wanted to be a part of this amazing adventure.


How did you learn about it ? Why did you want to do it ?

We had friends who did the Mongol Rally last year (Sherry Ott from Ottsworld, and Deb & Dave from The Planet D), and it sounded like an incredible journey. We’re also a wee bit crazy – as are most ralliers!


So, finally, two girls driving from Prague to Mongolia… How did you end up buying a Dacia Logan ? And why from Romania ?

OMG that is a LONG story! Let’s just say that the person shopping for a car was taking too long, and we were running out of time, so we reached out to a travel friend, Earl of Wandering Earl. Earl is currently in Romania, and agreed to shop for a car for us as Charlie and I were in North America. It just happens that the Dacia Logan fit within our price range, and it was also the size we needed for the rally.


Purchasing a Dacia Logan in Romania is an epic adventure ? Or everything just went smoothly ?

OMG, it was definitely not smooth. Charlie spent 10 days in Romania dealing with paperwork. As it turns out the car had to be registered to a Romanian resident (luckily for us Earl has temporary residency). She had to get notarized letters saying Earl gave us permission to drive and sell the car. Those letters had to be translated into English and Russian, and notarized again. It was a long process!


How did you learn to drive it ?

We each had a driving lesson at home before the Mongol Rally started, the rest of it we’re learning as we go. Scary, I know!


How is driving in Romania ?

We loved it. The roads were good, and the little towns we passed through were charming. I wish we could have spent more time in Romania. Our favourite part was driving the Transalpina.


Which will be your route from Romania on ?

From Romania we drive through Bulgaria, Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Mongolia


Which spots do you plan to visit ?

We’re not sure. We know we’ll be in Istanbul, Tbilisi, and Baku, but we’re leaving everything else open!


And, as a final… what advices you would have for people willing to follow your footsteps… or tyresteps?

The Mongol Rally will change your life, in many ways. Plan, but not too much. Be flexible. Find sponsors early on as many companies make donation decisions in January for the year to come. Choose your teammates wisely. Think of a wacky team name. Be crazy!

Follow Pam on Twitter or Facebook !


Pam & Charlie on the way to Mongolia

Lonely Planet Mongolia

The rally needs some preparations… like reading some books

Map of Mongol Rally 2012: Europe to Mongolia by car

Leaving some strange signs on a map

SM Stowaway logo to Mongolia

Creating a logo

5. Dacia Logan towards Mongolia.jpg

And, finally, a car. A Romanian car !

The Mongol Rally: Europe to Mongolia

So, everything is set to go

7. Reay to leave Prague.jpg

There is a lot of energy in the air (obviously, in Prague, at the start)

Good morning from Vama Veche

And still when you see the sunrise in Vama Veche, Romania

Pics courtesy of Pam – from Facebook and Twitter

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