Well we did it! The 4th Truants Ride was completed a few weeks ago, and, with well over £333,000 – half a beast! - (and counting) raised by this Cambodia Ride it takes us way past the £1m mark raised in total since our first ride in Jan 2010 for our 3 wonderful children’s charities. I would like to thank all of you who entered my recent Auction for your great generosity, this raised £18,341 – so thanks to Gabriela, Carlos, Tom, Alberto, Wes, Luca, Alexandre and Vince. And thanks also to those who donated on my justgiving page, and, of course, if any of you would also care to donate to excellent causes there is still time to do so, just go to:
In a couple of weeks’ time we will post here the details of the Cambodia Ride website which along with announcing the final total raised will also (we hope) be of some interest with tales, photos and movies of what we got up to and Truants falling off bikes, as many did in the dust and off-road mayhem of this one, myself included .
But in the meantime here is some info on what we did and found out in Cambodia .We certainly discovered another remarkable country via it’s farm tracks and back roads and found a beautiful people whose seemingly universal first instinct is to smile, despite their hideous recent national history.
For the genocidal sequence of civil war and invasion, that started as the Vietnam war ended, lasted so long that there are just very few Cambodians much older than 30 left alive. And as we learned on our rest stop at the Landmine Museum, the pain continues indefinitely with many millions of mines and unexploded bombs still to be discovered in the jungles and thus still blowing people apart. But while we learned too of ongoing corruption and generally poor government, we also saw an entrepreneurial people and economy headed in the right direction without obvious bureaucratic brakes and it seemed to us that the new young Cambodia has a great future. Their vast ancient temples reveal that they have been a great civilisation and society before and, though there are only 14m or so of them left, the land is super productive, and their culture welcoming and honest. You should go and see it for yourself, it’s beautiful.
For our part we did absolutely all we could to support the local economy whenever we were not pedalling away. Our 3 days in the saddle took us through the morning traffic of Siem Reap, on out amidst the tuk-tuks, mopeds and tourist traffic to the temples of Angkor Wat, where we would break to rest up a bit by climbing innumerable vertiginous stone stairways built, as ever, to get closer to ancient gods. The temples were fascinating and mostly in amazing order given a millennium spent buried in the rainforest. But most of our 3 days cycling was spent winding through mile upon mile of rice paddies on farmer’s paths and dirt roads and the odd 12 mile stretch of perfect tarmac, which, sod’s law, arrived at the same time as a blazing sun and strong headwind. Our developing skills as ‘pelotonniers’ helped us get through that bit, though when on sandy tracks atop rice-paddy dykes we worked out that it’s best to stay well clear of each other and let the fallers fall without you then riding over them. Rough roads go with rural beauty and as the miles and the pain mounted day by day, so the roads got worse and worse, ending with a long stretch of rutted mud to ensure we felt we have given our sponsors plenty of suffering!
But there was always something beautiful or fascinating to break up the tedium of grinding out the miles. A school where the 10 year olds were learning English, so we took an impromptu class encouraged by the staff and to the huge amusement of the kids who had surely never seen anything quite like us before, or exploring incredible floating villages, each (substantial) one-room home towering 60 feet or more up in the air atop a forest of 2 story wooden poles. The fishermen’s way of life is shaped by a huge rise in the floodwaters in each rainy season and huge fertile lake they live above. They descend down long flights of steps to patrol the mangrove swamps in ancient, leaky, but indestructible teak-built long boats, mend their nets and occasionally wave to the tourists whose lives could not be more different to theirs. And on our return to base we had plenty of chance to relax in the back-packer heaven that is Siem Reap city, where we routinely made the next days’ cycling far harder, by enjoying each other’s company far too long into the night
So for the pain we have no-one to blame but ourselves, and while of course we cover all our own costs, it’s YOU we have to thank or the gain. We know that we can only do the good we do because of your response to our call, every 18 months or so. What motivates us is the causes we serve and your amazing generosity. We’ll keep it up as long as you do!
Thank you so very much.
Update: You can now check out the story of the trip at www.thetruantsuk.com/cambodia