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195 %
raised of £2,500 target
by 56 supporters
Jonathan Browne avatar
Jonathan Browne

500 kms and £2500 to go.....

Fundraising for Diabetes UK

195 %
raised of £2,500 target
by 56 supporters
  • Event: Saigon to Angkor Wat Bike Ride 2006, 23 Nov 2006

Diabetes UK

We provide the vital support people need to ensure they don’t face diabetes alone.

Charity Registration No. 215199


Hi Everyone!  

Thank you loads for visiting my fundraising page. In November, I will be cycling 500 km up the Mekong from Saigon in to Angkor Wat In Cambodia to raise money for Diabetes UK, and because after 20 years of being the comic shop guy, I wanted to give myself a real physical challenge. Thinking about the heat here recently, I am wondering if up to 100 kms a day through rural Cambodia might not be a tad uncomfortable! There are also wild elephants, bears and tigers in the area!

As you may or may not know, I have been diabetic myself for sixteen years, and I am very lucky not to have any complications. The main reason for my success, despite 4 injections a day, bouts of hypoglycemia, blood tests and the rest of it, has been my relatively routine lifestyle. Similar foods from day to day, similar amounts of exercise and a 9 to 5 (ish!) job have all made insulin activity fairly predictable. It will be very different on the trail, different foods, VERY different exercise levels, and the tropical heat which make insulin uptake unpredictable, and will all mean I will have to be constantly re-appraising my diabetes regime on the fly.  

Its easy to say "I'm doing it for the kids", but I was 25 when I was diagnosed, and had already settled into adult life. I shudder to think how I would have dealt with the discipline and routine necessary to live with diabetes when I was a teenager. Those of you who have known me that long will know I was a bit different in those days! So really, I'm doing this because we are so close to a cure, and I really want diabetes to end now, with this generation, when it is within our grasp. I'm also thinking right now about Syd Barrett, my lifelong favorite musician, whose life was taken by diabetes this week.  I hope you can scrape up a couple of quid and sponsor me. Here's the itinery : Day 1 - London Heathrow Airport for 15hr flight to Ho Chi Minh City ( Saigon ).

Day 2 – Ho Chi Minh City - Full trip briefing and bike fitting. Day 3 – My Tho to Tra Vinh (52kms) After breakfast, we transfer a couple of hours out of Ho Chi Minh City to My Tho – the gateway to the Mekong Delta. Today’s ride leads right into the heart of rural Mekong . The cycling begins after the ferry journey across the
Tien Giang River at My Tho. The route takes us through narrow roads and lanes, past banana plantations, fields of sugar cane, through the lush green landscape of the Delta, crossing rivers and canals by numerous, ubiquitous, fascinating ferries. A section of biking cuts off road onto gravel and dirt lanes, and weaves around hamlets, across water channels and through quite dense vegetation. This makes for superb biking. A final ferry across the gaping expanse of Co Chien River leads us to Tra Vinh, a pretty tree lined town with a large population of ethnic Khmer.   



















Day 4 – Can Tho (82kms) Today’s route is peaceful, with narrow and very pretty roads all the way to Can Tho. There is plenty along the way to see, from the contrasting architectural styles of ethnic Khmer homes, to the numerous colourful Khmer temples and to the fascinating river scenes witnessed when pedalling over countless small wooden plank bridges. Visit Ba Om Pond with its magnificent lotus flowers.  


Day 5 – Long Xuyen (95kms) Today’s ride is spilt into two sections and is a contrast to the previous day’s ride. After a very early breakfast, we take a boat trip to the famous Cai Rang floating market before riding on a narrow paved road market to Phong Dien
floating market. The route weaves through morning market bustle along the banks of the very busy river. Absorb the sights of endless cottage industries, timber merchants, coconut shredders, small docks loading/unloading rice, and tiny vibrant markets. We continue by bike on the narrow lane to the main road, which transfers along the highway back to Can Tho for lunch. In the afternoon, we continue riding along a tiny road leading upstream towards Long Xuyen. For the last 15-20kms, the road is a little busier than earlier but there is the chance to ride single track alongside a canal paralleling the route. The ride ends with a final 5-minute ferry crossing and short transfer to Long Xuyen. Day 6 – Chau Doc (65kms+) Once more, today’s the scenery is completely different. After a short early morning transfer to Tri Ton, the cycling starts to gently undulate and mountains begin to loom as we ride closer and closer to Chau Doc. The presence of Thot Not trees indicates the growing proximity to Cambodia and the local people speak Vietnamese as their second language. This afternoon we cycle to the Killing Fields of Vietnam at Ba Chuc, where Pol Pot’s regime massacred over 3,000 Vietnamese in 1978. The route loops round to Chau Doc from Ba Chuc along the border, or re-trace back to Tri Ton depending on road conditions) and ride the rest of the way to Chau Doc along incredible country roads. Those with energy to spare can climb Sam Mountain for sunset!   







Day 7 – Phnom Penh - Depart early for the speedboat journey up the Mekong River to Phnom Penh. Once arriving at the pier at Chau Doc we say goodbye to our Vietnamese guide & bikes and travel up the Bassac River for approximately 1hr to the Cambodian border. The boat will take us upstream to Phnom Penh. New Cambodian team and new bikes. We then continue your journey into Cambodia & Phnom Penn. This capital city was once considered one of the most beautiful in the Orient, and despite its recent turbulent history, it still retains a colonial charm. After lunch, transfer to Cambodia’s killing fields and a visit to S21, Tuoel Sleng genocide museum. 

Day 8 – Kompong Thom (89kms) Today is an early morning departure by bus heading north. The route passes the ancient capital of Udon where Udong Mountain is still home to many of the old Royal Palaces. We pass the mountain and continue on towards the bustling town of Skoun, lying at the crossroads between the North and East of the country. Here our cycling trip will start for the 89kms to Kompong Thom. The route takes us north once again past cashew nut plantations and sellers. Back on smooth tarmac, we share the road with light local traffic and the occasional water buffalo. Heading off after lunch we cycle around the potholes of a narrow and once-tarmacced road. Here we are surrounded once more by paddy fields and huge open plains, the scenery broken only by sugar palm trees, wooden huts and pagodas. There are enjoy the views of Samtuk Mountain in the distance before arriving in Kompong Thom, a small but energetic town with a fascinating market. Distance: Approx 162 km. 89km of riding. 

Day 9 – Siem Reap (100kms) Transfer a short leg towards Siem Reap today’s cycle. This will bring us to the small town of Stoung - 45km from Kompong Thom. In Stoung start by biking the 100kms left to the city of the temples. Past Preah Pros Lake and enter Kompong Svay district. As we near the end of our challenge, the Cambodian road system is at its most challenging state yet!  

Lonely Planet describes these as the “worst roads in South-East Asia ”!  Swerving around the potholes, many the sizes of small craters (in fact many of them are) we cycle amongst the local traffic, many of them beeping their horns in greeting and as a warning and adding to the general chaos! It’s advisable not to wave back as you negotiate these roads – you need both hands! Here we pass through an area which used to be the front line of the Khmer Rouge in the 1980s and signs of war and the subsequent de-mining campaign become more prevalent, hitting home how much has changed in this country in only the last few years. We continue, passing through Kompong Kdei and its magnificent 12th-century stone carved bridge, which is the only bridge to stand the constant floods which come each year to this area when the nearby immense Tonlé Sap lake floods. Lunch in Sangbay before our final afternoon's ride to the finish line in front of Angkor Wat, a sight that is well worth the trials over the past few days.  Celebration supper! Day 10 – Day in Angkor Wat then flight home. Today is free to explore the incredible temples and ruins that make up the complex of Angkor. Angkor Wat itself is just one of the many temples in the region but is one of the best preserved and most impressive. It is worth climbing the remarkably steep and narrow steps of the central spire for the view over the whole temple surrounded by jungle. Angkor Thom, the old city central to the area, is a fascinating ruin featuring many mysterious giant carved faces and some incredible wall carvings, and is one of the most remarkable sights in the area. Also not to be missed is the temple of Ta Prohm, which has been left to be reclaimed by nature and features incredible tree roots breaking through the stone carvings and walls, a fascinating tribute to the power of nature over man. Real Indiana Jones stuff! 













Small plane to Bangkok then London Heathrow.

Just so you know, we paid the full cost of the expedition, and sponsored myself  £100 too, so you can be sure every penny you give will go direct to Diabetes UK.  Sabina and I will be organizing a couple of events, barbeques and parties over the next couple of months. She is a million times better than I am at those affairs! But if you bung me a couple of quid here, I promise not to rattle a tin at you! Donating through this site is simple, fast and totally secure. It is also the most efficient way to sponsor me: Diabetes UK will receive your money faster and, if you are a  taxpayer, an extra 28% in tax will be added to your gift at no cost to you.

So please sponsor me now!

Many thanks for your support, and cheers everyone!