Year 3: Blog items

Vietnam to Cambodia charity cycle ride

Date: 16th Nov 2016 @ 3:14pm

A week on Saturday my sister and I will  be travelling to Vietnam to begin a cycle ride from Ho Chi Minh City to Siem Reap in  Cambodia to raise money for a charity called The Alzheimer's Society.


I wonder if you can find Vietnam and Cambodia on a map and see how far we are going to have to cycle.

What is the capital of Vietnam?

The time is getting nearer and I'm getting butterflies now. We fly to London on Friday. On Saturday morning we fly to Ho Chi Minh City via Singapore. The flight will be over 14 hours in total.

19th November 2016

This is a picture of our Singapore Airlines plane. will take us 12 hours to get to Singapore where we  need to transfer to our next flight which will take us to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

We will arrive around 11 am Vietnam time on Sunday morning which will be about 4 am GMT - British time. The afternoon will be spent bike fitting and sightseeing. 



20th November 2016

Feeling tired after our long flight and very little sleep. Bikes have been sorted and ready for our 62 km ride tomorrow. The weather is very warm and humid here. There has just been a spectacular thunderstorm- the heavens opened. More thunderstorms are forecast for this week which should make cycling interesting. 

The time is getting nearer and I'm getting butterflies now. We fly to London on Friday. On Saturday morning we fly to Ho Chi Minh City via Singapore. The flight will be over 14 hours in total. Vietnam is seven hours ahead of the UK so we will be arriving on Sunday morning at about 7 o'clock. The day will be spent sorting out our bikes with some time for sightseeing. On Monday is when the bike ride begins for real.


Day One - Saigon  21st November 2016

Today I learned that although this city changed its name to Ho Chi Minh City everyone here still refers to it as Saigon. Saigon is a very large city with a population of around 8 million and most of them seem to ride mopeds. Mopeds are everywhere in Vietnam - whole families ride around on one moped - mum, dad with two or even three little children.

We cycled 40 miles to a place called Tra Vinh which is near the Mekong river - a very important river to farming in Vietnam. We cycled over lots of little bridges over streams that go directly into the Mekong.


Day Two - 22nd November 2016

Today our destination was Can Tho and we cycled a  total of 88 km. it was fabulous cycling through banana and coconut plantations. We saw a lot of paddy fields which is where rice is grown.

Yesterday I told you about little bridges over streams connected to The Mekong. A lot of these bridges are very rickety.

Well, as I cycled over one of them my front tyre got trapped in between the wooden planks and I was thrown into what was virtually a ditch full of river water with my bike on top of me. Fortunately I wasn't seriously hurt just a bruised leg and scratches. I was soaked in dirty river water. A Vietnamese man and his wife were the first to come to my rescue and after getting my bike and me out of the ditch came with a bowl of water to clean me and my scratches up. The Vietnamese people are very friendly and kind. I had a Go Pro camera on my helmet which wasn't turned on - a shame as that would have been good piece of footage. it was a spectacular crash. 

I should have mentioned earlier that the weather in the morning was extremely hot and humid which makes it difficult to cycle. Later in the afternoon after my crash the heavens opened and we were caught in a monsoon type deluge. I was glad at first because it cooled us down and washed the muddy river water from my clothes, but then it just carried on for an hour and a half. I have never been so wet in my life. I now have a suitcase with wet clothes and shoes in plastic bags in it.


Day Three - 23rd November 2016

Hi - Today we took a short trip on the Mekong river, before picking up our bikes for the day's cycling, to visit Cai Rang which is a floating market that sells mainly fruit and vegetables from the local farmers.

We saw barges filled with coconuts, bananas and pineapples. It was an amazing experience- imagine instead of going to Tesco you went out on a boat to get your groceries. That's what people here do and a lot of them live on the river in houses on stilts.

After visiting the market we met our buses with the bikes and set out again along through busy villages and then down small paths over lots of little bridges and some bigger bridges over the many tributaries of the Mekong delta. I was being very careful on the bridges after yesterday's experience. We have had a couple of other people come off their bikes. One lady banged her face and has a big purple bruise. That was a lot worse than my experience as at least I had a soft landing if wet. 

Our destination was a place called Chau Doc and we cycled 75 km today. It was very hot and humid again and we all struggled at various points. Again I have to say how lovely the Vietnamese people are - the children all run out to shout 'Hello' and we shout back to them. They like to high five as you go past. I am glad it didn't rain today as there is no opportunity to dry our clothes. 

Tomorrow we have another early start; we get up at 5:00am every morning. There will be no cycling but instead a boat trip to the next stage of our challenge in Cambodia.

The boat trip to Phnomh Penh (the capital of Cambodia) will take 5 hours and when get there we will have different guides and bikes. Our Vietnamese guides were fantastic and I will try to upload a photo of them and some of the other things I have mentioned.


Day Four - 24th November 2016

We had a five hour transfer today from Vietnam to Cambodia by a fast boat straight to Phnom Penh.

There was no time to go cycling today but we had a trip to a museum which houses information about a very sad time in Cambodian recent history about a bad leader called Pol Pot who killed a lot of his own people. It was very sad to see this and some fields where the people are buried.

We have different bikes to ride in Cambodia and we had to check them out and put on our own saddles.

There was some lovely Cambodian food but there are also some unusual foods to try as well like snake  - I found that very tough but it didn't taste bad. I did try some roasted rat - that was quite nice but there wasn't much meat and too many bones.

We have arrived in Cambodia and are now in a fabulous restaurant by the side of the Mekong. Lovely food....


Day Five - 25th November 2016

We cycled approx. 89km along the Mekong River towards our destination which was Totoeng Village in the Kampung Thom region. I think this has been the hardest day yet. We had a two hour transfer to our starting point and then it was 37 degrees with very little cloud cover or shade. We had two ferry crossings which gave us a little bit of respite.




When we cycle we have a truck and a van which meet up with us at our water stops. It's great because they fill up our water bottles. Some of us have a special rucksack that has kind of thick plastic bag ( a bit like a hot water bottle but for cold water) inside it. You fill it up and it has a drinking tube coming out of it so you can drink water as you are cycling along and you don't have to stop. At the water stops there also cans of coke, Sprite and energy drinks. You have to drink a lot because of the heat. We also have lots of snacks to keep us going - biscuits, rice crackers, fruit, nuts etc.

It was lovely to see the children who have greeted us all along our trip shouting hello and some of them were swimming in the river. We stopped by a school to hand out little gifts of pencils, rubbers, hair clips, bouncy balls and bubbles. The school children were very polite and neatly dressed. Even though everywhere is very dusty their white shirts looked immaculate.



Day Six - 26th November 2016

Although today was another long ride the lunch stop was at a beautiful place with hammocks and shaded areas to eat.

Some of the roads today were very difficult- sandy with potholes everywhere so you had to be careful and swerve around them cycling steadily so as not to fall off. I felt like my bones were rattling at the end of it and my hands felt numb from gripping the handlebars tightly. 

We stopped at a market near the end locally known as the 'spider market'. They had live tarantulas for the tourists to hold. I had one crawling on my arm and it crawled right up onto my shoulder. A good job I'm not squeamish- though some people were and there was a lot of squealing and that was just the men! I also tried some fried tarantula which was ok if a little chewy!


The good thing about today was that our hotel for tonight is nicer than the ones we have been staying in so far - with a swimming pool. I think we all cycled a bit faster towards the end because we were excited about jumping into a pool after another hot and sweaty day. 


Day Seven - 27th November 2016

This was our last day of cycling with a shorter route of only 28 km. We visited three of the temples of Angkor. All the temples are scattered over four hundred square kilometres of countryside between the Tonle Sap lake and the Kulen Mountains. The first on our itinerary was Ta Prohm with its crumbling ruins engulfed by the surrounding jungle. Giant tree roots have grown around the shrines and statues. This is where Lara Croft: Tomb Raider was filmed.



At one time long ago all these temples and monasteries would have been surrounded by bustling villages, towns and miniature cities but these have long since disappeared. 

The next stop was the walled city of Angkor Thom where we could see the Bayon state temple topped with dozens of towers.

The last part of our ride took us to the magnificent and  most famous of all the temples - the legendary Angkor Wat. But before we reached there we had to cross the finishing line of our cycle trip. This was wonderful because as we turned the corner metres from the finishing line we could see the corncob towers of Angkor Wat in the background. 



We all cheered and hugged each other after we passed through the finish line. Carol and I felt very emotional as we thought about our mum and dad for whom we took on this challenge.

We couldn't speak for a few minutes. After a beaker of champagne and lots of photographs we spent some time walking around this amazing archeological wonder. Carol and I are planning to go back to Angkor Wat early one morning to watch the sun rise behind it.

Our last evening of the challenge was spent having a lovely meal and watching some traditional Cambodian dancing.


We shall miss Vietnam and Cambodia but most of all we will miss all the lovely people we met from the Vietnamese, the Cambodians, the guides, the support crew, our fellow riders and the sweet children from both countries who 'halloed' us on our way.

Last but not least thanks again for all your messages of support and the generous donations to The Alzheimer's Society. Our target has been reached and overtaken. We both felt this was the hardest thing we have ever done but you all have helped us in our way and we couldn't have done it without you. Thank you xx

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