The New Year has barely begun and I already think I have come up with my wildest plan for the year yet. While doing some research on the web the other weekend I stumbled across a website seeking participants for a charity cycling tour of Cambodia to help raise funds for War Child Australia. Oddly enough, just the night before having a glass of wine with a friend, my friend turned to me and asked me where I would go and what would I choose to do for a holiday if it didn't involve work? I replied that I really wanted to do a cycling tour of either Vietnam or Cambodia, but timing/money made it an impossible dream for now.... What do they say? Be careful what you wish for!
As many of you may be aware, I was meant to travel to Cambodia in December 2007, but was sadly stood up by my travelling partner (an English doctor whom I'd met in Libya who'd asked me to meet him in Cambodia for our first 'date') three weeks before we were due to depart. Ever since that failed 'date', I'd been searching for a way that I could still do the trip. At the same time, if I did indeed get another opportunity to travel Cambodia, I wanted to go under completely different circumstances that weren't quite as self-serving. So here flashing on the screen before my eyes, War Child Australia was presenting me with the perfect answer, opportunity and challenge all in one. And I, of course, couldn't resist.
From 11-22 May this year I'll be taking part in the War Child Cambodia Challenge which is being organised by Inspired Travel, to help the charity provide education and support to Cambodian children who have been affected by war. It's a very long way from the green hinterland hills of Byron Bay and I will need to get very fit to cope with cycling up to 6-8 hours a day. However, having witnessed so much poverty and hardship in many of the countries I have visited while working as a travel writer, I see this challenge as an opportunity to not only do something worthwhile for an organisation for which I have great respect, but to also contribute to a local community in a country through which I am travelling in a positive way.
Together as a team we are hoping to raise over $50,000 from this event. I personally need to raise at least $6900 (half to go as a donation to the charity and half to cover my expenses). So I hope you will all support me in this challenge, even if it is just to wish me luck. Though obviously I need more than just best wishes (does anyone I have a bike I can borrow to train on??)! In the coming weeks I will post details about fund raising events I will be holding. In the meantime, if any of you have any great ideas for events or are able to support me with a tax-deductible donation or raffle/auction prize, please let me know – it would be very much appreciated and will bring me much closer to reaching my goal.
Picture: Monks walking at Angkor Wat (or Angkor Vat), a temple at Angkor, Cambodia. Obtained from FreeDigitalPhotos.net.