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Holidays With A Heart (Part 2) - Sarah Kershaw Hops on her fundraising bike and pedals 400km in Southeast Asia

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A worthy cause

After enjoying the luxury of a proper shower at our hotel in Delhi, we set off across the Yamuna River to visit a mule-powered brick kiln. It’s amazing what The Brooke has done here in two years. The families proudly show us the horse clippers, first-aid kits and water pumps that The Brooke has encouraged them to use. We visit a women’s centre, where women and children now have a vital role in the community, caring for the animals’ husbandry. The animals are living longer and their work is more productive, generating a greater income for the 400 families who work at the kiln. I know now this adventure has been in aid of a very worthwhile cause.

You can do it

To take part in the India Challenge, each supporter was asked to raise $2779 for The Brooke. This covered food, transport, accommodation and a charity donation. Find details of The Brooke’s next adventure at TheBrooke.org. Thanks to Mountain Horse for providing the riding kit. Horsemasters.co.uk.

Sarah Kershaw Hops on her fundraising bike and pedals 400km in Southeast Asia

Day 1

Thanks to my mum, I’ve raised $4,950 and I’m here to ride 400km over five days through Vietnam and Cambodia. Lord Winston, head of the Genesis Research Trust (funding research into fertility, IVF and stillbirth), once operated on Mum: I (half-jokingly) suggested we sign up to this challenge as a thank you. Two years of fundraising and training later, and we’re in Ho Chi Minh City with 70-odd other women. We’re a mass of nerves as we start on the first of many seemingly endless roads.

Description: Cycling is commonplace in Cambodia

Cycling is commonplace in Cambodia

Day 2

We’re at the Cambodian border, and it’s our first experience of the searching heat. But the scenery is worth it: water buffalo grazing, men in conical hats herding ducks on the paddy fields and rubber plantations. An unexpected bonus of the trip is eating as much of the delicious sweet-and-sour dishes, fried rice and tasty steamed veg as we can just to keep our legs moving. We stop everywhere from Buddhist temples to local house, where kind families offer fresh fruit and their hammocks for our achy legs.

Description: Bayon Temple

Bayon Temple

Day 3

Our hotels have been pretty basic so far but, having seen the poverty (an average Cambodian household income is only $285 - $375 a year), we’re just grateful for a mattress and a cold shower. As we go along, our guide, Mr Kim, tells us about Cambodia’s grueling war-torn history. But, despite their circumstances, every single child waves, smiles and shouts hello: it makes all the difference after pedaling 60km, with another 35km to go before bed! Today we’re really feeling the heat, but we boost each other’s morale and finish with a push over the Mekong River at sunset it’s all downhill from here!

Description: Mekong River

Mekong River

Day 4

There’s a sense of renewed vigour as we set off early while it’s still cool. My muscles have adjusted and it now feels natural to get on my bike. There’s so much to see: a colourful Cambodian wedding, golden pagodas glinting in the sunshine, schoolkids riding alongside us. We’re getting closer to our destination of Siem Reap and the temples of Angkor Wat and, as we dine on delicious spicy tom yam soup, there’s an air of excited anticipation for tomorrow.

Description: a colourful Cambodian wedding

a colourful Cambodian wedding

Day 5

We made it! We shout words of encouragement on the last sweep down the wide boulevards of Siem Reap and, as the temple spires of Angkor Wat appear, we’re all fighting back happy tears. It’s been extra-special to be able to do this with Mum; I’m so proud of her. On the flight home, I think about the women and babies we’ve helped with our money. I can’t wait for the next challenge…

Description: The temples of Angkor Wat

The temples of Angkor Wat

You can do it

The Genesis Research Trust organizes cycling and trekking trips all over the world; register now for Cycle Sri Lanka 2013. Fundraising targets vary, and extra costs such as visas, flight taxes and travel insurance are not included.

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