Route – MaeHonSon (city) to Chiang Mai (city)
When – 23rd Dec
Distance – Approximately 240 km
Height – Approximately 4000 m
Team – Ben, Fuang, F and Noi
Goal – 30,000 baht
For – BanDekDee orphanage – Their schools fees and their uniforms for the year. If there is money left over, a keyboard other instrumenst and some airfix models (yes I loved them when i was a kid).
Before I explain my latest Charity ride I must first thank all of you who donated to my ride last year for BanDekDee. If you anonymously put money in the box at AUA, sent money via PayPal, helped my parents with their fundraiser or kindly gave money to my sister in Sydney, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. The great feelings I had when I finished the ride and the smiles on the faces of the orphans as I arrived wouldn’t have been possible without your involvement. Those great emotions have motivated me to do another ride. We managed to raise over 50,000 baht last year. With the money we bought a great climbing frame, bicycles and a football goal.
This year I’m riding into the mountains. My ride last year although longer was relatively flat. This year I have 4 peaks to summit and 4,200m in climbing, for any Brits Ben Nevis is 1,300m. I recently recced the trip with my wife and son and drove to MaeHonSon for a short holiday. When we arrived to the hotel my wife collapsed on the bed and said ‘that was awful, I feel so tired.’ I told her ‘I have to ride than on my bicycle!’ Little sympathy was expressed. I also sent my parents on a trip and they only managed half way in their Toyota Vios. I posted on a local forum ThaiVisa if anyone had attempted to do this ride in a day. Most people said I was completely mad and didn’t know of anyone. I hope this makes it clear the pain I will go through on this day. It will off course be worth it with your kind donations.
This year BanDekDee has grown. They now have 19 orphans. Fuang recently helped the orphanage create a book of all the orphans with their histories. It makes for very sad reading with most of them with very similar family tragedies; a father or mother who remarried but didn’t except their new responsibilities. Parents lost to drugs with mothers in prison and fathers on the run. Fathers killed in car accidents.
My feelings when first visiting BanDekDee were clear. My childhood put into context, how fortunate I was with my upbringing. How alone and unwanted many of these children had once felt. If I can do anything, to show them it is that life can be tough but doesn’t need to be faced alone. Manop shares this and there is an amazing atmosphere at the orphanage. It really is one big happy famiy.
When I arrived at BanDekDee after my ride last year, all the kids crowded around me. I was shattered but I got a sense of real achievement. The boys were arguing about how many gears my bike had. They were fighting to carry it for me. I would like to think I might have inspired them. I think they might have thought ‘what is this strange foreigner doing?’ ‘Why did he ride all that way on a bicycle?’ The simple truth is that helping BanDekDee makes me feel good. That is why I’m doing it again and will keep doing it.
A local bike shop JackyBike has kindly provided me with some new equipment for my future rides. I have been using their services for nearly 10 years and they have a top notch mechanic.
We visted BanDekDee over the Loy Krathong festival. When we arrived all the orphans were doing their homework. As a teacher I made sure they weren’t copying. They weren’t and I was quite impressed how focused they were. Fuang and I gave them the two Where’s Wally books from my parents and they loved them. Manop told me of his struggle with the local authorities saying he needs to buy 5 rai of land to get fully recognized as a charity. This irritates me greatly, from a government that does very little for the very poor, especially for mountain kids. A few of the orphans are from MaeHonSon and were impressed with my bike ride idea. I have enclosed some of the pictures below.
Manop and his wife are such an inspiration. I struggle to take care of my one son. They look after 19!
This is Fahsai such a character
Homework and reading.
I wish I had this control in my classroom
How to Donate
Chiang Mai – There is a collection box in the AUA library. If you would like meet Ben in person he can usually be found in the teacher’s room.
UK – My parents will be kindly helping collect donations.
Online – There is a Paypal donation button at the bottom of the page.
If you didn’t see it this was the video we made for last years ride.