Day 7 – Battambang – Siem Reap and Ankor Wat

Posted by on Jan 21, 2013 in Blogger4 | 0 comments

I’d placed the alarm on the other side of the room knowing that was the only way I’d force myself of bed as it was set for 4am. Rather than waking straight away, the alarm for a short time slipped in to my unconscious mind and was ignored as something happening in the background of the surreal world of my dreams. Eventually though it nagged its way through my conscience and I admitted defeat and let go of the dream. Stumbling across the room I stubbed my toe then bent a finger back making a grab for the alarm. My colleagues (and my children) have occasionally commented on a passing resemblance to Mr. Bean. This could have been one of those moments. A fine start to the day.

Today we are heading to Siem Reap by boat. It’s too far for a single days bike ride by road and it will at least give our backsides some respite after yesterday’s experience. The boat will take around seven hours and having boarded in pitch black we set off in the chill of the night. Most of the others lay down to shield themselves from the cold breeze and try to get some more sleep. Ola and Ange are working on their laptops organising the next stages, the charity admin and the logistics of it all as they have been doing tirelessly from the start. I have been sitting watching the stars and reminiscing about days long ago when I worked with boats and there wasn’t a single saddle to be sat on for miles in any direction.

The sun eventually decided to rise from its lazy bed having decided a lie in was in order what with it being the weekend. Once up it wasted no time in sweeping away the night chill, seeing to its ablutions and getting its kettle on. From the start we’d passed small fishing boats and we could now see they were worked by men, women and children. A single occupant per boat crouched at the stern pulling and relaying nets. On the river banks, those just woken were either washing in the river or preparing breakfast. It could possibly conjure romantic images of a simple and idyllic life uncluttered by modern trappings, stresses and strains but from where I’m sitting it looks like a pretty harsh existence to me.

Six hours later we left the river behind and headed across the lake. In the distance we couldn’t at first see any shoreline giving the impression we heading out to sea but an hour later we were docked and once again preparing to mount our bikes for the final leg to Ankor Wat. The cycle there was about 15km and uneventful but we were driving through unaccustomed city traffic so caution was at the fore. On arriving at the entrance to Ankor Wat our photo tickets were processed and the journey round and then through the surrounding parkland took us passed the amazing 1000 year old temples.

A brief water stop just before the end allowed us time to organise ourselves in to pairs to finish in what we hoped would look like a neat column of cyclists. Our reception as we ended our journey in front of the stunning Ankor Wat temple itself didn’t disappoint. The partner of one of our number, Matheus, funds and works in a nearby school and had arranged for fifty eight of her school children to spend the day at the temples then greet us. They cheered us in as we came to a halt and if you can imagine being politely swarmed over this is what they did as they closed in around us and presented us with hand drawn pictures and balloons.

Having taken the obligatory pictures, we strolled through the temple with the children until it closed for the day. It wasn’t until they boarded their bus and we boarded ours that it really sunk in that the ride was actually finished. Against all logic I found myself wishing we’d be getting up in darkness again for another days cycling tomorrow.

I haven’t mentioned this before but I’m not a keen cyclist. I know some people really enjoy it and I’m not averse to the odd Sunday potter about in the park on two wheels however anything over a couple of miles should for me involve a different form of transportation. Almost any form of transport except a bike will do, I’m pretty easy about it. Why do the bike ride then? I guess I figured if I’m going to ask people to donate money to the charity it should involve some sacrifice on my part and not doing something which would normally be a hobby. A couple of years ago I did a ride through Kenya and swore after that I wouldn’t get on a bike again to do another. It has been painful, uncomfortable, hot and dusty. My backside, legs and wrist have certainly been pushed at times to their limits but it’s also been a great experience. My cycling buddies, our outrider Fredrick, medic Narin and support driver Mr D have been nothing short of awesome. The scenery incredible at times and the people we came across couldn’t have been friendlier or nicer with the never ending waving and hellos to us. I’m still not planning on getting back on a bike anytime soon but if I was to it would be here.

Tomorrow we board a bus for a six hour journey to Kampong Chan and Monday 8am begin a two week stint teaching at the English Bootcamp.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and for all the fantastic support, messages and donations we’ve received. We still have a way to go before we have raised enough to rebuild the school so if you haven’t yet donated and fancy popping a couple of quid in towards the school you can donate at

Thanks again








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