Vietnam to Cambodia Charity Cycle Ride
Vietnam to Cambodia Charity Cycle Ride – 17 to 23 November 2014
In December 2013 my mother spent the last ten days of her life being cared for by the Hospice of the Good Shepherd. All of the team at the hospice were extremely kind and compassionate during a very difficult time for our family. As a way of thanking them and helping support the work of the hospice going forward, my wife Karen, our friend Fiona Buckley and I decided to raise funds for the hospice by cycling 400km in 7 days from Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam to Siem Reap in Cambodia.
To say we’d never done anything on this scale before was an understatement. None of us had any cycling experience and Karen and Fiona had to buy bikes just to be able train for the challenge. Over the 6 months prior to the challenge the Cheshire countryside became a regular weekend location for our practice rides and we totaled just over 1,300 miles on the road in preparation, as well as training at the gym when time allowed.
The actual ride from Vietnam to Cambodia proved to be no less challenging:
Day 1 – Ho Chi Minh City to Tra Vinh
Cycling through coconut farms on narrow paths and dodging local pedestrians and motorcycles was tricky, however even tougher was coping with the sheer heat and humidity of Vietnam which really hit us for the first time.
Day 2 – Tra Vinh to Can Tho
Weaving through paddy fields and small villages, we crossed numerous rivers and streams via bridges and local ferries that didn’t look like they were strong enough to support our weight!
Day 3 – Can Tho to Chau Doc
After passing the floating market on the river at Cai Rang, we pushed on cycling over 100 bridges and reached the end of the Vietnam leg of the challenge. We now accepted that we would be wet with sweat all day.….everyday!
Day 4 – Chau Doc to Phnom Penh
The day was spent travelling by boat up the Mekong River before a lengthy process of clearing Customs into Cambodia. Once in the country we paid a moving visit to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the killing fields of Cambodia.
Day 5 – Phnom Penh to Kampong Thom
Cycling out of Phnom Penh during the chaos of rush hour was the most dangerous experience we’d encountered for many a year. It’s one thing to be told that if you’re crossing a road full of cars and motorbikes, just keep cycling in front on them because they’ll swerve to miss you. It’s another thing to actually do it! Having survived to tell the tale, we cycled into the Cambodian countryside, passing lotus ponds, villages, rice fields and fish farms.
Day 6 – Kampong Thom to Angkor
The word of the day was ‘dust’. Cycling on pot holed red dust tracks for hour after hour meant one thing – we were covered in it. Thankfully there was a pretty decent shower available at the end of the day!
Day 7 – The final ride to Angkor Wat
Following tracks and back roads we passed the overgrown temple of Ta Prohm (better know for the filming of Tomb Raider), the serene faces of the temple of Bayon and reached the finishing line for our challenge, after 400km of cycling, at the magnificent temple of Angkor Wat.
We funded the costs of the trip ourselves to ensure all donations went straight to the Hospice of the Good Shepherd and would like to thank friends, family and the people we work with for helping to raise just over £4,000 for the hospice.