After seeing the difference that his wife makes every day as a palliative care nurse, Mike decided to cycle 400 kilometres from Vietnam to Cambodia to raise money for our Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice. Here he talks about his trip of a lifetime.
I was incredibly fortunate to get the opportunity to take gardening leave between jobs, and decided that I wanted to use the time in a way that would benefit others and contribute to society.
Although I’ve traveled to East Asia before, I’ve never explored Vietnam or Cambodia, and certainly not on a bike. Attempting to complete 400km across both countries in six days, with temperatures approaching 32°C and 80% humidity, seemed like an appropriate challenge of my fitness.
A wet start
After an epic 15 hour journey, we arrived to a wet welcome at Ho Chih Minh - a city in the grip of typhoon Unagi. After a quick visit to our bike rental company where we were fitted up, the afternoon was ours to explore the vibrant and wonderful city before our first dinner together as a team.
Luckily, as we started the cycle, the rain held off, the typhoon passed and I was able to appreciate all this wonderful country had to offer.
Starting out from My Tho, the gateway to the rural Mekong Delta, we navigated challenging narrow paths and were surrounded by spectacular views, including banana plantations and fields of sugar cane. When we reached Can Tho a day later, children were fascinated by the line of cyclists passing through and cried out hello from behind bushes as we passed – fantastic!
I know that together we can make a difference to those who need it most."
Having visited a Khmer Temple, we reached the final leg of our Vietnam tour on day four, tracing a path on our bikes along the banks of the Mekong. As we passed through the famous floating markets, local farmers were selling produce from their boats and we were surrounded by stallholders trading timber and coconuts.
Arriving in Cambodia
We arrived in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh and headed towards Kompong Thom on what I’ve been told is one of the most scenic roads in the country. After a sobering stop at the Killing fields, we continued west through jungle. At every village we passed through, we were continuously met by friendly locals. At one, we saw the local delicacies of fried tarantulas - and anyone brave enough got the chance to hold a live one!
Journeying on through beautiful countryside, we finally reached the main road to Siem Reap - its hustle and bustle was a stark contrast to the off-the-beaten track route we'd been on.
On our last day there was definite melancholy in the air as everyone realised the challenge was coming to an end. It was amazing to be part of such a strong team spirit in such a short space of time. Our finish line was at Angkor Wat, where we had the opportunity to explore the magnificent temple. It was a spectacular backdrop to receive our medals and reflect on the once-in-a-lifetime experience we’d had together.
Battling 400kms in hot, humid conditions wasn’t easy but knowing that I was doing it to fund the expert compassionate care that Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice provide made it worth it. I know that together we can make a difference to those who need it most.
So far, Mike has raised over £1,500 so that Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court can continue providing specialist care and bereavement support when it really matters.
To support his incredible achievement and help us be there for more people when it matters, you can donate and read more about his adventure on his Justgiving page.
If reading about Mike's Asian adventure has inspired you to take on your own challenge, then sign up to be part of Team Incredible – we’d love to have you.