Ben's Sponsored Bicycle Ride for Ban Dek Dee Orphanage

on 2013-07-21 01:34:57

Mission: To ride from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai and back in 2 days

Distance: 400 km

Team: Ben and Fuang

When: 23rd and 24th December 2013

Goal: To raise 50,000 baht plus or approx £1000

To buy: Study equipment, books, climbing frame, sports, games and a few bicycles.

Ban dek dee is a new orphanage located in San Sai, Chiang Mai, Thailand. It was setup by Manop and his wife Tiwapon one year ago to look after orphans from all over northern Thailand. Most the kids are ethnic minorities at risk of, or victims of, drug issues, human trafficking and forced labor. Manop was an orphan and wants to pass on some of the opportunities he received to others. Manop and Tiwapon are the kindest people you could hope to meet. The orphanage is basically their house with 2 further bedrooms added, one for the girl orphans and one for the boys. Their 2 children also live with them. When you visit the orphanage it really is just like a huge family. It is amazing how Manop and Tiwapon manage to get 18 kids ready for school, and cook for them. 

Manop's current project is to build a room for the children to do their homework and study. He is building this himself with the help of friends. When it is finished they will need help equipping this study room. Manop is keen to stress the importance of education to these kids. He knows if they can at least read and write he can keep them away from many of the vices their parents were attracted to.

When I asked what the kids would like he told me a play area. The orphanage has a small garden which would be perfect for a climbing frame. When I visited them I bought a beach ball. The boys loved that. I think some of the older kids would like bicycles and the area around the orphanage is very quiet. I think anything to help tire the kids out would be beneficial to Manop.

  The Garden


I plan to do the sponsored bike ride in December but the orphanage could do with money as soon as possible. I would be eternally grateful if you could support my ride. You have my full assurance that the money will go to making these kids have a chance to succeed in life.

Manop doesn't have a way to receive funds from abroad effectively so when you click the paypal donate button the money will be transferred to my website's account in Thailand. I will then make a large donation when we have amassed sufficient funds. If you are in the UK my parents are accepting donations in person too. If you are in Thailand you can drop the money at AUA. Contact me for details

Please watch this video to see the orphanage and the orphans in motion

I will update this page so please monitor it for progress.

Thanks so much in advance. To donate click on the Paypal donate button below. Put in the amount you wish to donate and either enter your Paypal password or input your credit card details.

If you have any questions please ask them in the comments section.


Update 1

11 August 2013

This has been a tough first few weeks organizing my sponsored bike ride. My best friend Ian, cycling companion and  the guy who was going to ride with me to Chiang Rai and back had an awful cycling accident and broke his neck last Monday. He is as strong, fit and as determined they come.  I hope he gets well as soon as possible. I will do my best to help him recover and get as much mobility as he can. Ian might not be able to ride with me on this trip but I know he will be with me all the way in spirit.

Thanks to David Scott and Sally Westhall for your kind donations and to all those putting money in the AUA library and speaking to my parents and sister.

This has been a terrible last week but I am more committed than ever to complete this sponsored cycling trip. If anything it has reminded me the importance of life and how short our time is to make a difference.


Update 2

12 December 2013

Only 10 days to the ride. I’m feeling fit and really excited. I will be accompanied by my darling wife Fuang, mischievous son Charlie and two friends Noi and F. I don’t what the bigger challenge is, me riding to Chiang Rai and back or Fuang to find the hotel we are staying in the first night. F has kindly agreed to take some pictures along the way. He will provide the proof of my suffering. The biggest fear I have is that I will try and be a hero in the first 100 Kilometers. I will then pay the second day with Lactic acid. I still haven’t done two hard days in the saddle so I have no idea what to expect. I have included a list of food I plan to eat on the way. The idea is to eat every half an hour with a long stop after 4 hours. Hopefully I will get to Chiang Rai within 8 hours riding time day one and 8 hours day 2.

The Food

8 coconuts

8 Apples – Mixed

8 Bananas

6 Energy Bars

Rice crackers

Protein and coco

2 Papayas


Thanks for the kind donations.

I thought I would pimp up the bike. Hopefully a bit of exposure for BanDekDee. It will keep me motivated when my legs have had enough. 

Starting a training ride



The Ride

22-23 Dec 2013 Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai to Chaing Mai in 2 Days

Wow. I finished the bike ride about 3 hours ago. I’m still buzzing from the adrenaline so not too much pain yet. I think by tomorrow it might have worn off and I might need a walking stick. First of all thanks to BanDekDee for a wonderful homecoming. It was great to see the impact a small event like this had on the kids. I think they were all impressed by this endeavor. I also want to thank my wonderful support crew Fuang, Charlie, Noi and F for giving me moral support and always being there to drop of water and take great pictures. Being part of a small team made it much more enjoyable.

Day 1

I left my home in Chiang Mai at 6:30AM. Thanks to my 159 Baht sleeveless coat the wind-chill was minimal. Unfortunately my toes were soon numb from the cold; strange weather this year in Chiang Mai. It can get cold this time of the year but rarely this cold. I knew the challenge of the 200 Km lay in the first 100KM where the hills were. I knew if I paced myself the last 100 Km’s were flat and I could breeze into Chiang Rai. The plan worked well up to the 4 hour mark. I met the team at a gas station and ordered Pad Ka Prao. Unfortunately the chicken was full of tendons and I got a piece stuck between my last two molars. I spent the next four hours trying to pry this piece out. It drove me crazy. When you are on a bike for this length of time your mind can get preoccupied. I finally got into Chiang Rai at around 4PM after 7 hours and 56 minutes riding time. The hardest part of the entire trip were those last 20 Kms into Chiang Rai. The road was flat but my legs were shot. There is a famous line from my favorite movie Apocalypse now, ‘never get out of the boat.’ For me it should be ‘never get off the bike, ’ whenever I did my legs felt far worse. Just keep riding is the best tip.

In the evening I did my best to do as little as possible apart from eat and drink protein shakes. I knew I had to eat twice to get enough energy into me.

Day 2

After being kicked in the head multiple times by my 1 year old during the night I woke to a freezing morning. The plan was to have a big breakfast but I felt as sick as a dog. I managed to have a coconut, apple and a mango. I hoped this would be enough. The first three hours were covered by fog. What persisted after that were pains from every part in my body. Starting with the ass, then my neck, a throbbing sensation took over my knees and then the dullness in my legs. I learnt my lesson from yesterday and only took a short lunch break. After negotiating the hills I soon hit Doi Saket. The 30 Km before Doi Saket were by far the most enjoyable. I hope you can see form the pictures how beautiful this part of the world is. I eventually arrived at Ban Dek to an emotional welcome from the orphans. My riding time was 7 hours 35 minutes.

What worked

Equipment – I didn’t have a single mechanical issue. Not even a puncture.

Nutrition – I ate something very 30 mins. Either an apple, banana, energy bar, coconut or rice crackers. I never felt low on energy.

Route – Fantastic route with a great road. Only rough in a few sections.

Clothing – My 159 baht sleeveless jacket is the best thing I have ever bought. I don’t think I will ever throw it away.

What sucked

Labels – The bloody labels with BanDekDee on kept falling off and even when they were attached with safety pins they rubbed against various parts of the body including my nipples. Improvement needed next time.

Buses – Buses had this horrible habit of driving very close to me. Every time they did something strange happened to the airflow and my bike almost took off.

The one thing I will take from this trip was the importance of mind over matter. I never had any doubts that I would complete this cycling test but all the difficulties were mind testing. The pains I experienced were never too long in one place. It was almost as if my attention on the pain caused it to shift elsewhere. I had never ridden as far as that and certainly not two days in a row. If you truly believe you can accomplish something you will. No doubts just pure confidence and belief in yourself.


The Video 

Thanks for F and Noi for making this. If you want to contact him for work this is his email.


Chiang Mai to Chaing Rai by Bicycle for Ban Dek Dee from ben manhire on Vimeo.

So far 50,000 Baht raised - thanks so much!

The Climbling Frame


 We have also bought some bicycles for the kids.

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